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Friday, January 14, 2011

Suffering O Suffering...Why?...

"Naked I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!" (Job 1:21, NAB)

"...We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?..." (Job 2:10, NAB)

"One of the great paradox of our faith is that God allows us to suffer because of His love for us, not in spite of it.  In biblical times, suffering was thought to be directly related to one’s actions.  ...(I)f someone suffered, it was a punishment for his evil deeds.  The story of Job tells us that this idea is not true.  Job was an upright man who suffered greatly, and according to the book of Job, he did not deserve to suffer.

Suffering is not a punishment that each person receives in direct proportion to his own sins; but rather, it is a result of original sin, something that affects all of humanity without exception.

In His merciful love, God allows this unpleasant part of life, inevitable after Man’s fall, to bring about a greater good.  He uses suffering as a tool to bring us closer to His love.

We often forget that there is great value in suffering.  It strengthens us and purifies us.

It makes us realize our place in the universe, and shows us our dependency on God, and how helpless we really are on our own.

It reminds us of God and draws us closer to Him.  The sad truth is that we often turn to God only when we are in need of something.  We ask Him for help in times of trial and pain, but forget about Him when life is good.

If there was no suffering in life to bring us back to God, we would drift farther and farther from His loving presence.

Suffering often seems to be distributed unevenly - some suffer greatly, almost unbearably, while others seem to lead lives almost entirely free of all suffering. 

But suffering is part of the universal human experience, something we all experience in some form.

We don’t know why God chooses to allow some people to suffer in certain ways, but we do know that He will never put us up against something we cannot handle.  God will give us the grace and strength to overcome whatever trials He sets before us, and if we rely on His love, we will succeed.

In the New Testament, we can see Christ transforming suffering.  It is through His suffering and death that we are saved from sin and death, and by His suffering, He sanctifies and transforms suffering into something holy.

Suffering becomes no longer something to be dreaded, but something to be embraced, something that can heal and purify us.

We can join our sufferings to Christ’s and help participate in His saving work.  Many of the saints understood this, and it helped them overcome indescribable obstacles and trials.

Towards the end of her life, St. Therese of Lisieux’s desire to suffer for Christ became so strong that she described it by saying, “I have come to the point where I cannot suffer, because all suffering has become sweet to me.”

...(W)e too should try to welcome the suffering in our own lives. This does not mean that we should be masochists, seeking pain for its own sake, but rather, that we should embrace the crosses that God gives us to carry, seeing suffering as a gift rather than a burden, an opportunity rather than an obligation. 

We should see suffering as a way to help us on the road to heaven and a chance to follow Christ, as we are reminded by St. Peter, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” (1 Peter 2:21)   (Michelle Bauman, CNA)

Having reflected on all these in the very comfort of our own homes, our heart becomes restless...what must be our response to the real suffering of the world?...our fellow sisters and brothers?...

We must remember who we are...we are all of the same human race, created by God, in His image...all pilgrims...

By virtue of our human conditioning, suffering will remain a great mystery to mankind.  We will never admit that these are consequences of the selfish choices of our own freedom. 

Yet, many a times, what we continue to moan and complain of our own 'suffering'; in the truest sense of the word, nothing!...compared to what the poor, the outcasts, the marginalised, the refugees, the migrants have to experience every second of their lives...where is God for them?...what is life to them?...what would be their journey?...where do they find the face of Christ?...

Their humble saintly lives and cries are in itself the most genuine and sincere prayer to God...theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

"One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer."

 - St. Teresa of Avila

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