This is an excerpt from the book Lessons in Love: Moving Toward Divine Intimacy by Anne, a lay apostle. See www.directionforourtimes.org for more about the apostolate of Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King.
Suffering with Love
Suffering pain and being tempted to bitterness... how is it that these things proceed into compassion?
The divine pain includes a build-up of love that inflates like a stretched balloon inside our hearts. The experience of love increasing is one of near agony and the recipient feels as if he will be annihilated by the extent of the anguish from the love he feels.
One wonders, how did Jesus cope?
Now this love, as stated, seems to grow and grow through the recipient's life experiences of pain, bitterness, betrayal, and all things that are repugnant to us in our humanity. Who would choose such experiences? Who would sign up for them? Surely, only Jesus Christ and yet each of us who directs our steps after Him does so in willingness to accept at least some of His life experience.
On the outside we see suffering. Our humanity trembles with the weight of the suffering. At times, we are certain we will be overcome. But, if taken with heaven, our heart fills and fills and fills on the inside.
We must accept, believe, and trust that Jesus supports the soul as it is being filled and stretched to a seemingly unbearable limit. and then, the Lord Himself, at His pleasure and in accordance with His holy plan, opens a valve and love begins to flow out to others, on and on, further and further into the world, creating the most delightful and inexplicable divine ripple effect.
My brothers and sisters, how patiently Jesus has prepared us for love, how tirelessly and scrupulously He forms us, stretching the heart steadily in order to make it strong enough for its ultimate purpose, perpetual and complete intimacy, which is, as we said, a cloudburst of love.
Because this love is divine, it must flow along the river of the divine will. We, in our humanity, often would like to direct its flow toward those whom we think it would be humanly pleasing to love and be loved by. And yet Jesus, in His wisdom, puts His hand up, knowing that our love, divine in nature, will be like seeds among rocks, wasted and dishonored. Oh that we could follow His will from infancy, but then again, it is in the departures from His will that we experience the lovely reconciliation with all its opportunity for humility and compassion. God's plan is so vast.
Now, why does Jesus seem to require such searing suffering in order for us to be filled with this love? I am not sure, but I know that suffering produces compassion. Our willingness to accept suffering and humiliation for love of Christ, our refusal to turn our backs to Him or turn our gaze away from Him is what insures that this balloon will be filled. Temptation comes with suffering and persecution, it is true, but we will resist temptation with God's grace. And His compassion for the suffering of others will fill us.
Who loves like the Trinity, humanly present in the Lord's humanity? Nobody. Jesus, in not only His Passion and death but in His life, experienced a constant, steady, relentless filling of His human heart with divine love. Surely the divine pain Jesus felt must have been nearly unendurable. I believe that in some ways the Passion might have provided mystical relief, a final outpouring of love so unlimited that it became a roaring river that never diminishes.
In our own experience, we will find that the Lord opens the valve to release this love that He has packed into us, when He needs to, and therefore, because it is His, we must be willing to love whomever Jesus wants to love through us at His every whim.
Jesus, the Lover, always alert, watches His beloved. If the beloved shows signs of weariness or discouragement, the Lover moves swiftly to refresh and encourage.
There are times when the beloved, that is, each one of us present in this distinct and separate relationship with Christ, rejects assistance. We have all had the experience of someone whom we may characterize as difficult to love. Often by this we mean that someone does not find it easy to accept our love, perhaps because of a feeling that he is unlovable. There will always be those in our lives who give us the feeling that we are trying to love a cactus plant. If we get too close, we get hurt. Jesus experiences this, too, of course, with each one of us to different degrees at different times in our lives.
The Lover, Jesus Christ, feels the pain of His beloved acutely, suffering with us the pains of our humanity. How baffling for Him, humanly speaking, to be rejected, and yet how patiently He awaits acceptance. His whole presence in each relationship could be viewed, among other things, as a study in patience. We, the beloved ones, entertain so rarely the truth of the constant gaze of love that follows our every breath. This is perhaps a blessing because when the strength of the Lover's gaze is remotely understood, the beloved one can feel helplessly inadequate in the love equation. How can one return such pure love? How can one measure up, protecting the pristine nature of the exchange? Clearly, without grace, one would simply drift away, such would be the hopelessness of the situation.
To protect the relationship, Christ infuses into His beloved puffs of pure love through an action of the Holy Spirit. There is no limit to the amount of growth possible in love, even which we remain on earth.
The beloved becomes more and more disposed to the Lover and gradually, in the same way, learns to become more and more alert to the Lover's whims and communications. This is to be desired, because, even while this disposition increases the divine pain of separation, it increases the capacity for storing the treasures that come from the Lover's heart.
We must all strive to be first, recipients and then storehouses of the Lover's gifts. When others see the salutary effects of these gifts, they will also seek the Lover. This love must be accepted and stored for the benefit of this recipient, the beloved one, but also for the benefit of all those around the beloved, such are the magnificent emanations from pure love.
The Lover is always fully engaged with us. That does not and will not change. The process we desire or strive for is to enter into the gaze, to become fully engaged with Him in a constant exchange.
Distractions fade as one progresses because the walls of the gaze become more pronounced and more adept and repelling those things that seek to tear the beloved away from the process.
An action of grace from the Trinity preserves the recipient of the Savior's love.
Craving love from each other is a good thing. This makes us like Christ who craves our love. Yet, in this time, many feel ashamed that they crave love from others. The greater the love we feel for others, the greater the craving for a reciprocal response of love. Our craving does not insure that we will receive that which we crave, any more than the Lord's craving for love from each man is satisfied.
Happily, Jesus teaches us as much in rejection as He teaches us in acceptance, that is, the experience of rejection, being so consistent with the ongoing experience of Jesus Christ by humanity, enables us to further identify with the crucified Christ.
When the Lord suffered Calvary, He suffered or experienced near-total rejection. This was His experience of it in His humanity, even though we know that not all mankind rejects Christ. Did this cause Him to return rejection or abandon His love for us? No. On the contrary, in the acceptance of those who rejected Him, Jesus set an example of heavenly and unconditional love. Jesus' acceptance of the rejection of others in no way diminished His craving for the love of humanity. He craved love in both His humanity and His divinity until the moment of His death. He continues to crave our love and safety.
The more we possess Christ, the more we recognize Christ and love Him in others.
This pain of separation then extends at times to others who also possess Christ. In other words, those who have grown to love Christ identify Him in others. They respond to His presence in others, even though they may not know what it is they are drawn to or what it is they are craving. How terribly confusing at times, but how wonderfully exciting that we can have this heavenly experience to any degree at all while remaining in our humanity. This is truly another foretaste of heaven.