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Offering Our Burdens to God


We don't always want our suffering; we are tight-fisted about it, haggle over it, often botch the job.


There is suffering that has been done well just as there is work that has been done well.  From the moment we get up in the morning we have our suffering to do just as we have our work to do.  And just as the details of our work are willed by God so are the details of our suffering.

When we do the will of God, when we get up, when we prepare the meal, when we go out, when we run an errand, when we catch our train, we deepen our union with the Lord by accepting and willing his will.  When we suffer our daily allowances of suffering, when we get up with our legs still heavy and tired, when it takes us ten times as long and ten times as many steps to prepare the simplest meal and our nerves are ten times as frayed.  When we leave our warm room to go out onto the street to skate on the black ice; when, stumbling in driving snow, we go round the town to bring back — or to fail to bring back — the simplest things.  When we wait on a cold platform for a train that won't come.  Over and above the harmonizing of our own will with the will of God, we become through our suffering the very bearers and donors of his grace.

We can quickly recognize a saint in all these small occasions of suffering.  He does it with an ease, a naturalness and a grace — in both senses of the word — a good grace that makes of this small suffering a massive work of love.



delbrel Venerable Madeleine Delbrêl. "Offering Our Burdens to God" from The Joy of Believing (Sherbrooke, QC: Éditions Médiaspaul, 1993).

Reprinted under fair use. Image credit: Jean-François Millet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Author

delbrel Madeleine Delbrêl (1904-1964) was a French Catholic author, poet, and mystic, whose works include The Marxist City as Mission Territory (1957), The Contemporary Forms of Atheism (1962), and the posthumous publications We, the Ordinary People of the Streets and The Joy of Believing.  She came to the Catholic faith after a youth spent as a strict atheist.  She has been cited by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray as an example for young people to follow in "the arduous battle of holiness."

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