Session 7. Called in Suffering
Reading: Chapter Seven in The Stories We Live
Resource: Calling Journal
you walk with us
through good times
and valley deep,
your footsteps our guide,
hands our support.
you are close to us
when life is smooth
your healing our hope,
your touch our desire.
bring comfort and peace
and the warmth
of your presence
and I shall fear no thing,
for you are with me,
Faith and Worship: http://www.faithandworship.com/Prayers_comfort_healing.htm#ixzz5QbWt20jV
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Part 1. Introducing Called in Suffering
The truth about vocation is that it does not always involve choice or movement. It is not always going to or from. Sometimes it is about figuring out God’s call in the place that you are.
Sometimes being called in a situation are times when you have little choice. About the only choice you have is how to live out your calling in the situation. You can find yourself insituations that require patience and waiting or duty and obligation. Such situations can entail suffering and pain, not joy and peace, at least not initially. It may not be what you want, or where your gifts life, but it is in fact where you are. In that place, you ask: God, what are you calling me to in this circumstance?
(From: The Stories We Live: Finding God's calling All Around Us. Kathleen Cahalan. Eerdmans, 2017.)
Part 2. Exploring Called in Suffering
"When we look back at the three-fold definition of vocation, we see how our vocations can be affected in profound ways by suffering. Who we are, how we live, and what we do are each impacted by situations of stress or struggle.
"The challenges we face in our own callings may be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. We may struggle with our health: disabilities, disease, mental illness or addictions. We may struggle with our families: estranged relationships, abuse, or divorce. We may struggle with work: job burnout, ethical dilemmas, or financial difficulties. We may struggle with loss: of a loved one, an opportunity, an ability or a dream. We may struggle with our faith: where is God in this mess and chaos? Is this part of what God is calling me to?
"As difficult as they can be to bear, times of darkness do not mean an absence of God’s call. Sometimes if we reframe our understanding of how vocation relates to suffering, we gain a new perspective on how God has been calling us all along.
"Consider how changing the preposition that is used with the verb of “calling” can transform its meaning:
Pick one of the prepositions above and think of an example of a time when you felt called in suffering—in a difficult situation, away from a difficult situation, towards something new, or for a deeper purpose than you first thought. Write your reflections in your Calling Journal.
Part 3. Experiencing Stories of Being Called in Suffering
"Sometimes it comforts us to see how God may be calling us through the difficulties with face. At other times we simply have to take on a challenging responsibility—like caring for an aging parent or staying in a difficult job—without having any sense of being called. And sometimes, in life’s most difficult experiences of loss, illness or death, our suffering often seems far too painful or unjust to be meaningful. Our struggle to understand why this is happening to us may lead us to wrestle with God or even lose faith.
"These dark moments of questioning our vocation may change our understanding or image of God. For example, after a divorce, someone may wonder why or if God called them to marriage in the first place. When a child is stricken with a life-threatening illness, the parents question how a loving God could possibly allow this to happen. The events of our lives, as well as the sufferings caused by evil and injustice in the world, can pose deep challenges to our view of vocation and of God.
"But the obstacles we meet through times of crisis may eventually be found to reveal God’s presence, too. The God who calls us remain the God who hears us."
(From: Called to Life Participant Guide by Laura Kelly Fanucci, Collegeville Institute, 2016. Pages 28-31)
View one or more of the following videos of how people found God and calling through suffering in their life.
Use the two questions below to reflect on the videos you watch. Write your responses in your Calling Journal.
Bless all whose journey,
that search for faith,
acceptance and identity,
is made more difficult
by circumstance, doubt,
stumbles along the road,
and the load they carry.
May they hear your voice,
and see your footsteps,
know how close you are,
lay down their burden,
reach for your hand
and allow you to lead
them into their promised land.
Faith and Worship: http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_strugggling_life_faith.htm#ixzz5QbWSsFjE
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution