All of us have an experience of suffering either on account of our own fault or caused by others or due to unexpected occurrence. The first reaction on facing such evil or suffering is to question God, particularly his Omnipotence and his Omniscience: If God is all-powerful, why can’t he stop the disasters which occur in the world? If God is all-loving, why does he send suffering? If God is all-knowing, why can’t he stop people doing evil?
The Church explains in three ways, how we could understand evil and suffering.
- God has given free will. It is up to every person to make use of it and choose what is good and right based on the Commandments of God and the Bible.
- God must have a reason for allowing evil and suffering. But we are not able to comprehend why. Our loving God, who loves us unconditionally cannot do anything bad for us.
- The occurrence of Evil and Suffering give us an opportunity to check our way of life and correct ourselves.
Jesus, who is The Way, The Truth and the Life (Cf. John 14:6) reveals from his very life itself that suffering is not the final end of the human destiny; but it is a doorway to resurrection. Hence, he declares: “If any man wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). With this, Jesus states that it is through our suffering, we pass to our own salvation and eternal life. Thus, being spiritually united with Christ, through the Cross, we carry in our life, we fulfill the saving mission of Christ and experience interior peace and joy even in the midst of suffering.
There are two ways of encountering suffering: One way is by Making the suffering meritorious. Such a person accepts suffering in a spirit of reparation, like a good-thief hanging on the Cross with Jesus, and thus received the merit of salvation. The other way, on the contrary, is by crying in despair that leads to blaspheming against God’s providence, like the bad-thief on the Cross. Thus, one can encounter suffering either with love for God, with joy, patience and perseverance or with despair, anger, vexation and blame God for it.
The lives of the Saints bear witness to the fact that our love for God leads us to love the Cross (suffering), because we are able to suffer for the love of Him, who lovingly suffered for us.
“Sometimes, we may have to suffer along the way that leads to the holy mountain of perfection, but we will not be discouraged, because whoever ignores the purpose of Christian suffering does not recognize and know what is great and wonderful in her days … Let us, then, be glad when an unexpected cross presents itself, and we are afflicted with pain…” – St. Francis Xavier Cabrini says
May God strengthen us in bearing our daily Cross
Fr. Arul Joseph V.