Christians are not immune to physical suffering. The question begs us still, “Why is man subjected to suffering, especially if one believes in the supernatural power of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
It is a question as old as man himself. Explorative and historical answers have been wrought by minds wrapped in faith and hearts filled with sadness.
Such is the impetus for this article. Admittedly, I wrangle with this subject today from a very personal dimension and equally from a very spiritual one. I feel confident my thoughts are not mine alone.
Why does the God of Love not step in with His latest miracle and just wipe it all away? Why does our God of might and saving grace not succumb to the plethora of prayers and petitions lifted through earth’s clouds and end human suffering once and for all? Why indeed?
Catholics are often and misleadingly looked upon as those who indorse human suffering as a characteristic of the Christian faith. Actually, what is correct is that the Church teaches what Jesus and his disciples taught.
St. Paul wrote the Romans of his day to encourage them about faith and suffering. He said: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,
4 and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans, Chapter 5)
The Catholic Church teaches: “Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.” CCC 1501
“…Christ compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” (Mt. 25:36) CCC 1421
“Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own; “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases…On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” (John 1:29) of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering; it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. “CCC 1505
“Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. “(Mt. 10:38) By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing.” CCC 1506
I don’t know about you but this really helps me. I know my faith is in one greater than what I experience in this world. I know my faith is for a new life greater than what I have in this world. My faith enables me to move toward that goal of life everlasting; one with no tears or pain. This is the hope I wear on my heart when pain and suffering comes too close.
I am grateful to the Catholic Church for being here to help guide my faith and hope. It helps to direct me to walk with Jesus in a personal way; not to seek out suffering per se, but to accept the strength of our Lord when I am weak in order to endure suffering brought on by the sin of mankind.
“…The Church believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.” CCC 1509