Redemptive suffering. A testimony of my conversion…
This article was first published in the Jesuits Yearbook of 2021. You can find the entire Yearbook following this link.
21 February 2014. I was on my way to preside over the festive Eucharist in Vannampatti parish near Dindigul, Tamilnadu, India. I was tossed off from my motorcycle by a speeding truck. My right hand became completely dysfunctional, and many wounds were all over my body. I underwent ten surgeries in the course of four years and had to cope with relentless neuropathic pain during the recovery. I am not fully well yet! “How did you respond to such a major adversity at the age of 41? How did you engage yourself effectively during this prolonged period of convalescence? What makes you wait patiently and cheerfully?” These were some of the queries I was facing from those who visited me.
Here is the story of my inner journey and transformation. Lying in the hospital totally helpless and in a confused state of mind and suffering excruciating physical pain, many questions, doubts, and anxieties went through my mind. “True, God knows all things, but is He grinding my faith? God saved me from the clutches of death, but what is His purpose behind this action? How is He working on me through these events and happenings?” I was unable to perceive positively God’s saving intention behind the shattering event!
During this prolonged period, I experienced the Eucharistic Lord ever more closely; this led to a significant transformation of my life. What followed later deepened my faith and trust in the protective arms of Our Lady. On two occasions of Eucharistic celebrations, I experienced the healing touch of Mother Mary when I felt an inner spiritual strength stirring from the crown of my head to my feet. The Eucharistic Lord became part of every tissue of my broken body, and His blood stimulated the fractured veins and nerves. This fueled up my spirit to be at ease with pain, and I obtained spiritual strength to say “Yes” like our Mother to God’s will that necessarily included pain, agony, and suffering! These experiences enabled me undergo life’s journey with enhanced faith.
As days passed by, I grew in trusting the Lord of life. I began to associate with the character of Job, and his words of agony echoed my situation well. It affirmed God’s footprints in my life during its real dark days! I kept reminding myself, “God leads me on…even in my pain.” The inner voice whispered:
Pain is undeniably a passing reality
Yes, it is, and it always shall be
It has no power to crush or defeat
Affirm the indomitable spirit within
Fathom the power of the risen Lord
Believe and you shall overcome!
Undeniably, the realities of sufferings develop into meaningful segments only through the optics of spiritual dimension. The positive divine vibrations shaped my outlook, worldview and perspectives leading to an inner change – purifying my concerns, convictions, and commitments. I knew that God does not load me with burdens beyond my capacity. If trials come my way, I ought to submit to Him. My soul whispered:
Get on to your shoes…
It’s time for you to be up for the given mission
You are to embrace the second life bestowed by your Creator
Keep going with an enhanced passion for your mission
This mishap is not a stumbling block and it never is
So, fly over the negativities that weigh you down
Anchor your willpower, determination, and self-confidence
In faith to the one to whom your life belongs
For He will raise you up to the sky…
Affirm the spiritual energy within you
The courage to create and to see the opportunity
To seize it and the power to shape the future
Pursue the academics with firm dedication
Use your hands, mind, and your heart
Employ your imagination, courage, and be adventurous
No pain, no adversity can stop your journey…
Take it, rise up, and brave your world…
I have learnt that the more I push myself undertaking reasonable risks and challenges, the better I utilise God-given potentials. For fear undermines self-confidence with self-doubt. The moment I plunged into actions – driving a car, a walkthrough the fields, sweeping the floor, writing the doctoral thesis with my left hand while my right hand hung from a sling ‘lifeless’– I found enhancement in self-assurance and determination. Faith-filled statements shaped up my perceptions, thought patterns, and convictions. The lives of St. Ignatius de Loyola and St. Padre Pio had positive impact and inspired me to overcome despair and depression.
Amid people with a worldview that pain is a symptom of God’s curse, I am tuned to God’s time where I find that in His time, all is beautiful. The improvement in my arm is very slow, and it may take a few more years! To this end, let me endure with patience… For, I believe in a God who accomplishes miracles even through mishaps…because suffering, accepted as part of the mystery of my life, becomes redemptive suffering, even when there is much pain and disability.