How by Embracing Suffering We can Impact Others

by Lucy Crosby, grade 7

St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Suffering is a gift—though like all gifts it depends on how we receive it. And that is why we need a pure heart—to see the hand of God, to feel the hand of God, to recognize the gift of God in our suffering.” I agree with the words of St. Teresa and I believe that by embracing suffering we can impact others. We will explore this topic through the life of St. Teresa. We will see how her life helped to build a culture of life, and we will discover how, by embracing suffering in our own lives, we can help others see the value and dignity inherent in every human being’s life. 

St. Teresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia. Throughout her life she was dedicated to serving the poor. By 1996, St. Teresa operated 517 missions in over 100 countries. Her Missionaries of Charity grew from just 12 to thousands, serving the “poorest of the poor” in 450 countries worldwide. The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx area of New York City, and by 1984 the congregation operated 19 establishments throughout the country. All this did not go without great suffering. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, the mayor of Kolata from 2005 to 2010, said that Mother Teresa “had no significant impact on the poor of this city.” He said that she glorified illness instead of treating it and misrepresented the city: “No doubt there was poverty in Calcutta, but it was never a city of lepers and beggars as Mother Teresa presented it.” Secretary Giriraj Kishore said that “her first duty was to the Church and social service was incidental,” accusing her of favoring Christians and conducting “secret baptisms.” The author of the Indian newspaper Frontlinecriticized Mother Teresa’s public campaign against abortion and her claim to be nonpolitical. She also faced physical hardships as well. She a heart attack in Rome in 1983 and another in 1989. In April 1996, she broke her collarbone, and, although she had heart surgery, her health was clearly declining. What did she do about all these things? She continued to serve. She embraced her suffering, and through her perseverance, she truly did build a culture—a culture of life.

You may ask, what can we do? Well, going back to the life of St. Teresa, we saw that she chose to embrace her suffering. Our crosses or suffering may not be extreme, but by embracing the small hardships, we impact others. When we receive the gift of suffering with a pure heart, we show others how the love of God can impact others. It’s like a chain reaction. When you embrace suffering, you show your family how to embrace suffering, who show their friends how to embrace suffering, and so on. It really does make a difference. By doing this, you also show others the value and dignity of others. Like St. Teresa once said, “We need to realize that poverty doesn’t only consist of being hungry for bread, but rather it is a tremendous hunger for human dignity. We need to love and to be someone for someone else.” 

Today we have explored how the life of St. Teresa helped to build a culture of life and how, by embracing suffering in our own lives, we can help others to see the value and dignity inherent in every human being’s life. This is why I believe that by embracing suffering we can impact others. I want to leave you with a quote by St. Ignatius of Loyola: 

If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.

© 2018 Lucy Crosby. Published with permission.