Monday, July 11, 2011

Temporal Suffering: Punishment or Gift?

As  I sat, knelt, and laid by my father's deathbed  just two weeks ago, the Lord taught me many things; and showered me in such graces and blessings and mercy that I was left in awe of His kindness and humbled at His generosity.

If you have never experienced it before, it is REALLY difficult to watch someone slowly die. Of course, when that "someone" is a person you love, cherish, rely on, and NEED in your life, it becomes a heart-wrenching challenge to accept and embrace the events that are unfolding before your eyes.

My Dad was a hard-working man. Even in high school, he had to drop out a year to go to work and help his family; returning later to finish school with my mother's graduating class. (That's how God brought them together and went on to bless them with 64 years of marriage!)

During my father's last 3 days, he had long periods of AGONY. At times, I didn't think I could bear a single moment was especially traumatic to see a look of "FEAR" on his fragile, and suffering face. (I would sing hymns to him and comfort him with the Divine Mercy Chaplet...stroking his hair and telling him it was OK to let go and reach out for Christ's welcoming arms).

At one point, I begged God out loud, "Dear Lord...he has done nothing but work and work HARD for You his whole, entire life...does he also have to 'WORK" now to DIE????? PLEASE spare him of this agony".

I can not adequately articulate what next transpired. Thus, I hope you will forgive my rudimentary attempt.

Somehow...(and for those who are accustomed to the quiet way in which God sometimes speaks to our hearts, you might relate)...God spoke to my heart in that silence...and yet SO clearly and lovingly...and...I think...sternly.

He asked, "Oh Judy...don't you see? Why can't you understand? THIS is his Purgatory; which I am allowing him to serve  on EARTH so that He may join me in Heaven today".

All at once, each and every moment that my father moaned, cried out, choked, or gasped for air, became, not a punishment or aimless trial or suffering IN VAIN...but rather...a  BEAUTIFUL, MERCIFUL, WONDERFUL GIFT from his own LOVING FATHER in HEAVEN.

"I am SO SORRY, Lord", I cried. "Yes...NOW I see".

And, I realize too, that in some way...WATCHING my Dad in his hour of agony...though it caused ME great suffering...was also a gift...because I was able to offer up each moment of my own pain and grief for the reparation of my sins and for so many intentions. (YOU were all a part of those prayers, as well!)

During the last five years of my father's life...he suffered greatly. Actually, all THROUGH my father's life...he was never a stranger to suffering. But, during those last years, when he was in and out of hospitals almost weekly, at times...he said to me, "I'm hoping that I can take care of all of this suffering so that you kids won't have to".

I believe that God hears and answers prayers like these. I believe that He would, indeed, allow my Dad to "suffer for His children's sake".

I believe He DID allow it.

And, I believe, that because the Lord offered "Purgatory" to my father on earth...he was able to join the Saints in Paradise when he released his final breath on June 27th, 2011.

Suffering the temporal punishments for our sins, and enduring trials and sufferings while we are on earth, is not some form of a curse, dished out by a cruel and thoughtless God.

It is a GIFT. It is a means for Jesus to allow us to take part in the Cup of His Passion, so that united with Him, and made worthy by His merits and grace, we are able to be cleansed, healed, and prepared to enter into His heavenly kingdom when our time comes that He will call us HOME.


  1. Judy,
    Thank you for sharing these very beautiful and personal memories. It is hard to watch someone you love slowly die. I remember this with my grandfather 2 years ago. I am not sure he understood redemptive suffering, but prayed in those final days that he did. The hard truth is that we all have to pay for our sins and while I am thankful for purgatory, what a gift to be able to suffer now so as to skip it later. I am glad our great and merciful Lord heard and answered your prayers in a very real way for you.
    Continued prayers.

  2. Praying for your father and your whole family and you.

    God bless.

  3. Well. I have no words. Only tears. Tears of sorrow and tears of joy. For you and your dad. Hugs and prayers.

  4. Judy,
    As sad as this post was it was also one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read. I had a witness in the spirit while reading it. Suffering, though hard for so many to understand, is very powerful. I was very touched by your father's words, "I'm hoping that I can take care of all this suffering so you kids won't have to." Oh! The love that these words speak! Your father sounds like an amazing man, Judy.

    You are all in my prayers. God bless you, my friend.

  5. Hi Judy, I'm so happy to have read your story about your dad and purgatory. This is an area I know well, I watched my mother slowly die 19 years ago and she suffered and experienced a great deal of pain. I didn't however, think it may have been her experiencing purgatory on earth. What a revelation! May God bless you in your loss!

  6. Judy, I have been blessed by your posts three times tonight. I was also crying reading this at the love shown in your crying out and duress at witnessing your Father's suffering, at the love of your Father wanting to bear suffering for his children (reminds me of God!), and the consolation in your spirit when you were crying out. I believe as you do in temporal punishment or purgation on earth, and I praise God with you that your Father is now beholding the brilliant glory of his Savior in heaven! May God comfort and bless you and your family in the loss of your Father's presence here on earth, and in the knowledge that his suffering here is over. The quote on Joscelyn's blog (the third post of yours led me to that one) I think speaks another word of comfort to you: AT MY DEATH, WHEN I SHALL SEE THE GOOD GOD WHO WILL SHOWER UPON ME THE TENDEREST LOVE FOR ALL ETERNITY, AND WHEN I SHALL NEVER MORE BE ABLE TO GIVE HIM PROOF OF MINE BY SACRIFICES, THIS WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO BEAR, IF ON EARTH I SHALL NOT HAVE DONE ALL I COULD TO GIVE HIM PLEASURE.

  7. Your post has shone new light on my own fathers passing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You are and your family are in my prayers.

    God's speed...

    I'm very thankful to Colleen for sharing your post on "Pay It Forward"!

  8. Here I am, one year later, and only now finding these beautiful, generous, wonderful, comforting comments from my dear online friends. I think, perhaps, I was "drained" after writing this post last year and thus, did not re-visit it for a while. This evening, I was perusing some old links, as I sometimes enjoy doing...and came across this post...and all of your loving notes. Thank you to each and all of you. Your words uplift, encourage, and sustain me as I continue to learn how to go on in joy, without my dear Dad; whom I miss SO very much. I ask his intercession for your personal intentions today. Thank you friends!