We can’t speak of St. Josephine Bakhita and not touch on the topic of suffering. Harry Emerson Fosdick (“The Meaning of Faith”) calls it “faith’s greatest obstacle”:
“The doubt sometimes (invades) minds perplexed about life’s tragedies that the Christian’s faith in a God of love is an idealistic dream…Rather the very symbol of Christianity is the Cross. Our faith took its rise in one of history’s most appalling tragedies, and the Gospel of a loving God, so far from being an ideal dream conceived apart from life’s forbidding facts, has all these centuries been intertwined with the public brutality of a crucifixion. Every emphasis of the Christian’s faith has the mark of the Cross upon it. Jesus had said in words that God was love, but it was at Calvary that the words took fire: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son’ (John 3:16). Jesus had preached the divine forgiveness, but on Golgotha the message grew imperative: ‘God commended his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8)…Nothing in Christian faith has escaped the formative influence of the Tragedy. The last thing to be said about the Gospel is that it is a beautiful child-like dream which has not faced the facts of suffering…Christian faith is not a dream that came in hours when human trouble had been forgotten; it has furnished from the beginning an interpretation of human trouble and an attitude in meeting it that has made men ‘more than conquerors’.”
St. Josephine Bakhita conquered her own suffering by the acceptance of love from a God who also suffered. Pain comes to all of us in one form or another; how do we react? Do we turn away from God because we don’t understand, or do we run to Him who died to embrace us? Fosdick also said: “the great sufferers have been the great believers.” Let us pray that by faith we overcome hardship, as Bakhita and all the saints did.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us!