Treasure hidden in weakness and suffering

The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” never sat right with me. I was never sure why, until recently.

It brings to mind a kind of strength that is callous toward pain and indifferent to weakness. Or a cold strength of ambition that propels you forward, faster, higher, while paying no heed to what you leave behind. Maybe I’m reading too much into a quip, or maybe I’ve come to desire a radically different kind of strength.

The strength I desire could be mistaken for weakness. You could say that what hasn’t killed me has made me weaker. Weaker in that I feel pain more acutely, mine as well as others’. Weaker in that I am aware of my own shortcomings, and more forgiving of others’. And weaker in that I relinquish all desire to live life in pursuit of self-glory, instead accepting whatever God places before me, determined to find the graces God has prepared in any given time and place. In accepting weakness we become spiritually stronger.


I love the above quote by St. Vincent de Paul — it is an invitation to learn the art of suffering well. It’s easy to recognize the value of suffering in hindsight, but let’s aspire to lovingly receive and carry our crosses.

Again and again I discover why the saints insist that suffering is medicine for the soul. Suffering teaches me the most important lessons, purges the most stubborn of bad habits, inspires my highest aspirations, and turns my eyes toward eternity.

Related post: When you know your “good days” are numbered


11 thoughts on “Treasure hidden in weakness and suffering

  1. Psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross once said, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” I do hope and pray I might find my way as well, by the grace of God, and discover that this has all truly been medicine for my soul. Thank you for visiting my little blog-corner of the world.

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  2. I like this thought. Learning happens when things don’t go according to our plan. I just wish sometimes that it wasn’t so painful. When yet another of my plans falls through, I try to thank God for another apparent ‘failure’, but it’s hard to say thank you when it hurts. I’m working on it.

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  3. Though suffering in the ways I have the past few years was not a choice I would have made, I would now not trade my suffering for anything. It has brought me to my knees and closer to my Lord than I thought possible.

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    1. I definitely agree. Humility is such an underrated virtue these days! “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” –St. Augustine

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