A Moment of Reflection on Suffering Pneumonia and Expectations – September 17 2017

Had a mildly challenging night. Not much sleep. Even so, up and feeling a slight bit better. Prayer time was good but not great. The violent cough soon reemerged and led me to a bit of discouragement – frustration at small things.

I was hoping that today might be a turning point. It felt possible. Not happening. As I experienced the internal physical violence that comes with pneumonia, I doubled over with my hands resting on my knees and as it subsided a hint of desolation settled in. “Breathe,” Stephanie says.

Several volcanic coughing spells spread throughout the morning. I sat down at my desk. I looked at my Plan of Love/Examen. The Spirit showed me – desolation. I noted it.

Rule 6: Although in desolation we should not change our first proposals, it is very advantageous to change ourselves intensely against the desolation itself, by insisting more upon prayer, meditation, upon much examination, and upon extending ourselves in some suitable way of doing penance.

Examination: Why am I feeling this way? I am sick. But the desolation…

The problem is in my expectations. I felt an inkling of feeling better. I managed the first coughing fits to keep them shorter. Later they worsened. So out of control. Why when all the other health indicators are good?

I need to be careful with my expectations. I need to hope that this will end soon but expect it will last a month or longer. His love is in this moment – this truth – I need the reminder of how fragile my life really is and how much I really need Him. Eyes welling with emotion. His love is present. Manage expectations. Yield.

Enough examination. A suitable penance? Offering it up for the young men entering into the High Calling program. Just the thought of offering it up… a ray of joy pierces the clouds of desolation. Welling with emotion.

What an inexplicable yet sober joy to be able to join with Christ in the redemption of the world. Rejoice – choose joy in suffering. Lean into the discomfort. He is there in the moment, waiting.


12 thoughts on “A Moment of Reflection on Suffering Pneumonia and Expectations – September 17 2017”

  1. It’s so good to be able to distinguish between the trial – the sickness and discomforts that accompany it, and the desolation. You are resisting the desolation, yet embracing the suffering. Perfect. You give us a great example and continue to teach – even in your weakness! Thank you, Dan. You will remain in my prayers.

  2. Choose joy in suffering and lean into the discomfort. Wow, Dan Burke, what a teacher you are by sharing your experience with suffering. It might be awhile for me to have joy during suffering, but I am working on it. I desire to get there though. We don’t have to go looking for suffering as it seems to find some of us rather frequently, but if we have the right attitude and nail our sufferings, whether physical or mental, to the cross of Jesus, we just might someday when in Heaven have someone tap us on the should and say, “because you gave your sufferings to Jesus, I’m here!” I do believe you and your loving warrior wife Stephanie will have many taps on the shoulder!

  3. Dan, I have remembered something that you had said once on Divine Intimacy Radio that in your sufferings you have experienced a type of joy to be able to offer up those sufferings for others. I have been praying for that joy in my sufferings. There has been someone in my life who said I don’t want to burst your bubble regarding this prayer, but it is not possible to have this joy. I have felt led to continue to pray for this as I don’t want mediocrity in my life. Thank you for showing your wisdom and courage while suffering. You are an encouragement to me and are definitely not mediocre!

    1. Jeanette, perhaps your friend was looking with the eyes of the world. From a worldly point of view, the idea is absurd. I think the joy comes when we realize that nothing comes into our lives that God doesn’t allow. So God is inviting me to share in the Cross in this way. Secondly suffering is limited to this life. Once we pass into eternity, we can never again suffer in union with Christ. In light of eternity our suffering is a precious and holy thing. Thirdly there is a joy knowing that somehow in the great mystery of God’s workings, someone else is benefiting from my suffering if I offer it in union with Christ. Lastly when we suffer, we can use it as a reminder of what Christ suffered for us, even though ours be a most pale reflection.

  4. Dan, you set an example of how to share in Christ’s suffering that, for me, seems nearly impossible at this stage of my spiritual journey. I have to remind myself that you did not just begin your journey, but have had years to learn of our Lord’s ways and how to utilize the suffering and trials He asks you to bear, and to go through them with joy. Thank you for showing me how redemptive suffering is to be offered for the sake of others. Prayerfully, I will someday get to the point where you are now.

  5. Dan, knowing your personality, I am sure having to rest and not be on the go is a part of your suffering. I pray you recover soon and that your work piling up won’t be too bad. Thankfully all is in Providence’s wise hands.

  6. Mediating on The Seven Sorrows Rosary, praying that uniting ourselves with the suffering of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother we prayerfully can unite our suffering in union with all they endured for us, while we were not deserving…. May the Lord bring you to complete healing Dan. I will continue praying for you to endure and unite your suffering with Our Lord and His Blessed Mother…

  7. You have given us invaluable lessons in this little window into the mystery of joy in suffering. You joined it, gave it to Christ and you chose Joy. It was in that leaning in that you found Him there- waiting. If we are constantly seeking God, what an opportunity we miss to find Him if we are running away from our sufferings. I will drop anchor on this lesson. Thank you for your vulnerability to share it with us.


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