Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lenten read for those who suffer

And since every one of us has their own unique suffering in this valley of tears, I would recommend this book to everyone: "Never Give Up: My life and God's mercy", by John Janaro.

I just finished reading this book, and I thought it was excellent; it really touched me, and had transformed the way I look at suffering in my own life.

In this book, Janaro, a father of five and college professor writes about his struggles with Lymes disease, anxiety, and depression. His reflections are refreshing honest and candid; it's a story how an ordinary man endures the sufferings, trials, and frustrations that he faces each day through his emotional and physical illnesses. I think I was most inspired by the way that Janaro is able to vivify the abstract concepts of suffering and "offering things up", and show readers, in a concrete way, both the struggle involved and the hope to which Christ invites us.

This a truly worthwhile Lenten read, which will particular strike a chord with those who have dealt with emotional struggles and chronic illness, but the message it contains will touch all who face the trials and drudgery of daily life. Janaro shows readers that suffering can be crippling and lead individuals to a very dark and lonely place; but ultimately he shows readers that suffering is infused with meaning, and suffering mysteriously brings about redemption.

Here is a section which particularly spoke to me:

"Suffering must be endured not because life is less important than we had hoped but because it is more important than we can imagine. It is the place where God is with us.

Our hearts long for happiness, for life. But what is life? What is happiness? Do we find it only in that space of time that belongs to us? Do we imagine that God sits in the background and allows us to play with reality, then starts taking our toys away when playtime is over? No! That is not what life is! Life is God with us at every moment - in every joy (God delights in our joy!) and also in the abyss.

...We are called to endure suffering not with stoic resignation but with abandonment to his loving presence. We endure in the conviction that God offers us his love - the only fulfillment of the human heart - here and now, in the midst of our suffering and the ploddings of our daily lives. We are called to put our hearts on the line, to allow ourselves to be wounded by love, and to be loved, because he is with us and he loves us now. And we know that love - in the end - is always worth the risk." ~ Never Give Up, pp. 52-53


  1. I haven't gotten the book yet, but I've been reading his blog. I had him for a couple classes, and his words were often so inspiring!

  2. Is this at the library, by chance? I'd like to read it. I only had him for one class, and I'll never forget how transformed he was once he was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease and they were actually able to treat him. All those years of darkness and suffering when they didn't know what was wrong-- wow.