Finding Joy Through Suffering

By: Sara Hammett

“You are being let go.”

Those are words any employee would dread hearing and I am no different. Having only been employed at this particular place for only three months, and with recent talk of downsizing, I knew that this may have been on the horizon. On March 22, 2017, I lost my job. Once asked to speak with my boss in his office, I met with HR, discussed parting procedures, and just like that I left. Overwhelmed with emotion, I began to cry. “Why God?” was the first question that popped into my head. Only three months before this very day, I felt the call to seek out this place; taking a cut in pay to serve His children in a unique way. In a matter of minutes, it was stripped from me. My world was suddenly dark, and for the first time in my life I had no idea what was ahead of me. I had no plan and no next step. I felt weak and powerless. I saw very quickly that I had two options. I could have either sat around allowing the Evil One to overtake me, or I could allow the Lord to enter. Later that day, I attended the Confirmation Mass of the parish I ministered with and was assured in prayer that the Lord had other plans. The next five months of my life became an incredible journey of finding joy through suffering; reflecting on the Passion of our Lord, and in recognizing that true joy comes from sacrificial love.
Early on in my unemployment, we had Mass on a Thursday night at our Women Youth Apostles House. Per usual, I was asked to altar serve and for the first time ever I remember not really wanting to. Feeling sad and rejected by employers already denying me, all I wanted to do was attend Mass and just get on with the evening. Nonetheless, I served and was struck deeply by one moment in the Mass. After prepping the altar, I stand towards the priest with the bowl to wash his hands, look up, and stare directly into the face of Jesus behind him on the crucifix. My eyes locked with the sorrowful eyes of Jesus as he endured His passion. It was in that moment that I felt comforted, protected, and united with Jesus. I was reminded in that moment that the Lord suffered and died so that I may live fully; not be miserable and not question the purpose He has for my life. It was that night that I chose to make my prayer during this time in my life to be, “Thy Will be Done.” I wanted to seek His will above all else and if that meant being unemployed, then that meant seeking how He willed to use me. Surrendering all to Him at the foot of His cross (literally) meant that I too had to carry my cross and seek Him first.

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Throughout the next five months of unemployment, carrying my cross meant suffering through applying to over fifty jobs with no call backs, having the frustration of having to watch every dollar I spent, and not feeling secure or comfortable with the road ahead. Time and time again I would feel the Evil One creep inside my mind and make me think I was a disappointment to everyone and that I would never get hired. I would take those thoughts to prayer and would be affirmed that I was on the path God wanted me on. Each of my days were spent caring for two elderly individuals and babysitting five children for one of my Youth Apostle brothers who was suffering with terminal cancer. Each and every day I would wake up, made sure I got to Mass, and fought to remain hopeful no matter how much the odds were against me. In serving and loving those who needed a light in the midst of life’s struggles, I learned that the Lord wanted me to pour my heart and time to serve them; using my time off to glorify Him.

Not every day was easy and there were some days I didn’t want to wake up. One thing I can say is that I went to bed each day full of joy. Through the suffering I went through in losing my job, I gained a new sense of life. Through the sacrificial love I gave daily to those in need, I got back so much more. I was humbled and blessed each day to share in their lives; sharing in their struggles and triumphs. “Thy Will be Done” was my constant prayer of surrender to the Lord and receiving Him in the Eucharist daily gave me strength. In choosing to love and be loved by others, I learned to trust in God’s providence with my whole heart. On September 5th, I began a full time position with Evolent Health as a patient outreach specialist. I couldn’t be happier in knowing I am beginning this next chapter of my journey and that it is in fulfillment of the Lord’s will. Suffering through these past months taught me to love courageously and always seek the will of God in all I do; for that is where I will find the greatest joy.

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