Comments on Suffering
John Paul II on Suffering:
“Indeed, it is only by contemplating
the unfathomed beauty of humanity's final destiny—eternal
life in heaven—that the multitude of daily joys and sorrows
can be adequately explained, enabling people to embrace
life's challenges with the confidence born of faith and
“Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says: ‘Follow me!’ Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him.” [The Christian Meaning of Suffering]
“In the light of Christ's death and resurrection, illness no longer appears as an exclusively negative event … Rather, it is seen as … an opportunity to release love … , to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love.”]
“[S]uffering in itself can conceal a secret value
and become a path of purification, interior liberation and enrichment of
the soul. It is an invitation to overcome superficiality, vanity,
selfishness and sin, and to trust more intensely in God and his saving
C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
in his ‘Screwtape Letters’ has the main character, the
demon Screwtape, instruct his apprentice Wormwood as to why
God sends us “dry times:”
Webmaster’s comments on suffering
Does God Cause us to suffer ?
No. God doesn’t cause us to suffer. Suffering came into the world with Original Sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden the human race was separated from God who is the source of all that is good. As a consequence suffering was brought upon the whole human race.
Suffering is partly a mystery. Even though God is all loving and all powerful He allows us to suffer, but by doing so He reveals that He has a greater purpose for allowing it. Whatever suffering we are asked to endure is not as great as the reward that God is going to bless us with in Heaven.
God wants us to love Him, to give ourselves to Him, because He loves us so much. He even died on the cross that we might be united with Him in heaven. We are sometimes asked to give up the worldly things that we almost desire the most so that we might make Him the One that we do desire the most. The hardest thing to give Him is our sufferings, that is, to offer it up to Him with faith, faith that His will is best even while He allows us to sometimes suffer. And we are asked to believe that He still loves us and to have faith and hope in Him and that His will is best for us. He knew that suffering would be hard to endure. Since God created the world He has created all the spiritual truths that govern the world. He could have Redeemed us any way that He chose. We are extremely blessed that He chose to Redeem us by suffering. By doing so, He has made our own sufferings holy and redemptive when they are united to His, that is filled with His grace, so that our offering of our sufferings to Him are accomplished by His grace working in and through us. And by choosing to Redeem us by suffering He has made our own sufferings less difficult.
Advantages for us in that God chose to redeem us by His Suffering:
We can see His love more clearly. If a billionaire gives away a thousand dollars that it not going to convince us that he is truly generous or loving. God’s love in the midst of His suffering demonstrates its true worth.
The sufferings and crosses that Christ asks us to bear are in invitation to strengthen the faith and love in our hearts. Suffering moves us to deepen our trust in God’s Divine Providence and it moves our heart to charity for others who suffer.
It would be wrong to view the battle between Good and evil as if Satan was almost getting the upper hand against God and then at the last minute God pulls out his star player, Jesus Christ, who only wins the battle at the last minute. God’s side is always winning. We might just not be able to see that here below. Our acceptance of our crosses in life that are done in faith and obedience to His Divine Will is when Jesus is most manifesting His glory in us.
Why did He give the stigmata, the wounds He suffered on the cross, to some of the Saints ?
These saints willfully accepted with thankfulness the suffering of the stigmata. Suffering in and of itself is not redeeming. So, an appropriate question is, what makes some suffering worthwhile ? Obviously we have to accept some forms of suffering. If the only way to escape from a certain suffering is by sinning then we are called to accept that suffering and avoid the sin. We are called to accept this, in faith that our all powerful God allows it *because* He loves us so much, and accepting it with faith which allows us to have thankfulness in our hearts to God, not for the suffering in and of itself, but rather for the fruits that come to us by God's grace in the suffering. The Saints who humbly asked to share in the sufferings of the stigmata were seeking a greater good.
Why does God ask us to accept suffering ?
I sense that there is a strong evangelistic point that we can make to non-Christians ( and to Christians as well - like myself whose heart is so slow) here about the meaning of life, suffering, and love and how the Catholic Gospel gives us powerful insight into these mysteries. The points to be learned are not just some abstract intellectual theories. They have to be learned in the heart with love, and often through suffering. Yet, they are not so much what we accomplish as they are gifts given to us by our Heavenly Father. We probably would do well to point out that God is not the cause of suffering and that He doesn't ask us to suffer for the sake of suffering, but in order that we might attain to some greater good, that is, to know Him so that we might learn to a deeper degree Christ's love for us, to be more like Him and to increase our love for Him, and to be more effective in becoming channels of God's grace to others. The reason that God has made us is to know, to love, and to serve Him in this life in order that we might be forever happy with Him in the next life.
Learning about suffering
The best way to learn about the mystery of suffering is through a life that is prayerful and obedient to Jesus Christ as we meditate on His passion and on the lives of the Saints in the context of the faith, hope, and love in which they lived.
Sacrifice comes from the Latin words "Sacra" and