"Well, I have to say, that was the best case of the flu I have had in a long time!" Can you think of the last time that you heard someone say something like that? I myself actually said it (quietly) just yesterday morning. Yes, I caught the flu recently and it knocked me out of commission for a couple days. You may be asking why I would have said it was the "best case of the flu". To begin with, as Catholics, we already know that all suffering is for our good and can be offered up to our Lord for the good of others. Yet, there is much more to it than that.
There are often times when we suffer something and can only see our own pain. In these times we forget about the beauty of "offering it up" and the suffering comes and goes with no spiritual fruit coming from it (on days like that, you can almost hear an audible sigh come from your guardian angel). I can thank our gracious God: this was not one of those times. Right at the beginning when I started feeling the onset of the aches, chills, and sore throat, the Lord put some people on my heart that were deeply in need of prayer. By the grace of God I immediately offered up my pain and suffering to our Lord for the sake of those very people.
The consequences of this are definitely more than I will ever know, but there are a couple that I am aware of. Firstly, it made the rest of the time being sick more bearable. I saw it as something I was doing for someone else (not just having to put up with). In addition, it caused me to remember those people more frequently and I offered up extra prayers for them as well. My perspective changed entirely on what my experience was all about because of the way in which our Lord promised to "use" our suffering (as small as the flu may be) by combining it with His sufferings.
It all makes me think of the time I was trying to teach one of my sons to hit a baseball. I would throw the ball to him as directly as I could into the line of his swing. At first, he missed every single one, but I kept up and eventually he nailed it. I can picture our Lord in Heaven saying, "OK, I will send this trial at him; let's see if he can take advantage of it". Each time we miss those opportunities, God says "try again" and gives us another shot.
How many "baseballs" has God thrown to you and you swung and missed? We used to say (maybe they still do; I do not pay attention to sports, so I do not know) when someone hit the ball real well that he "got good wood on that". We each need to work on our "hitting average" (to keep the metaphor) and take better advantage of all our trials and difficulties. Have you suffered something recently and "missed taking advantage of it"? Ready yourself, right now, for the next suffering that God will toss to you. He always throws it right where we can hit it if we only try. May Jesus help you to use it rightly so that you can offer it up.