"Why do we have to suffer?" is a question often raised in the heart of man. Looking at American society, we witness and attest to much suffering. Blessed Mother Teresa has spoken of this suffering as a great disease that plagues Western culture.
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Loneliness has worked its way into the fabric of our culture. It is our norm. We do not look people in the eye when we pass them on the street. We do not speak to them in grocery lines or at bus stops. We do not greet each other with a welcoming kiss but with a rigid handshake. If 90% of what we say comes from our body language, the message we receive on our daily encounters is the following: "I do not care about your presence; I do not want you next to me; I do not trust you enough to come close to you."
Put rather simply we hear, "I do not care about you; I do not want you around; I do not trust you."
Father Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., wrote a song about suffering. Its message is that everyone has to suffer.
"How do we deal with it?" is the question the heart of man truly is asking when he asks, "Why do we have to suffer?" We know that suffering is a hard reality that will not go away. What we do not know is how to mentally deal with it.
How do we deal with it?
The Church tells us how to mentally deal with it.
First, we must realize one thing. The world is the entity that tells us we can constantly be happy in this life with the allure of glory, fame, physical pleasure, and material things. Not God. God does not tell us this. What is the first thing we see when we look at Him? We see our symbol of Him: the crucifix. He is dead with a mangled, torn, and bloodied body nailed with large, iron nails piercing holes in His hands and feet holding Him stuck to a wood cross. We see horrendous pain and suffering. It is the world that mystifies us with pleasure, comfort, and never-ending happiness. It is God who is real with us and lets us know that we will be in pain, suffer, and die.
It is the world that mystifies us with pleasure, comfort, and never-ending happiness. It is God who is real with us and lets us know that we will be in pain, suffer, and die.
Second, we must accept what God is telling us as truth. God does not lie to us. He IS Truth. He cannot lie to us -- it is not in His nature to do so. We have to realize that the mentality we have that we can be happy all the time and be in comfort all the time is a lie. The lie came from the world and because this is the world we grew up in, we accepted it as true. We have to alter our thinking now. We have to realize that the world is not going to give us happiness and comfort all the time. We have to realize that the world is going to give us pain and suffering.
We have to alter our thinking now. We have to realize that the world is not going to give us happiness and comfort all the time. We have to realize that the world is going to give us pain and suffering.
Third, we must not enter into despair. With this new realization, it is easy to become depressed. We must not become depressed and here are two reasons why. One, we DO experience happiness and comfort at moments during our life. When we experience them, we should thank God for them because they are gifts. Two, our symbol of God is the crucifix. Jesus is hanging on the Cross. This means that we are not alone in our pain and suffering. God is there with us in it. He is as real and present in every moment of pain and suffering you experience in your life. In those moments, He is truly present with you.
We must not enter into despair. We are not alone in our pain and suffering. God is there with us in it. He is as real and present in every moment of pain and suffering you experience in your life.
Why? Well, it is called the Gospel (gospel means "good news") of Suffering and we need to hear it preached more in our broken world. Jesus did not come and say everything was going to be great and grand and you will be fine and then I will take you to Heaven with Me. He said, "I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16); and, "Do not think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword" (Matthew 10:34). He continues, "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:38).
What happens to sheep in the midst of wolves? They are attacked by the wolves. Jesus tells us these things to prepare us for the life we have here on earth. We will be attacked by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our hope is in the Lord. He is our Shepherd. We hope in His Salvation and eternal life. Life after death. He gathers His sheep; warns us about the world, the flesh, and the devil; but also shepherds us where to go. He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead to set us free from the bondage to sin and death. THIS is where the happiness lies. We are freed from our sin and eternal damnation. We can spend eternity with God in Heaven.
Jesus does not want to be quaint with us. He wants to be real with us. He wants us to realize that the world, the flesh, and the devil fight against us every day. We will experience pain, evil, suffering, and death while on this earth. He knows that and He knows what it is like because He experienced it while He was here too. Look to the crucifix and you will see for yourself.
What about the good news?
There is good news, even in the pain and suffering. Here is the good news:
Life is still worth living.
When we unite our suffering to His suffering and ask Him to use it for His glory, He is able to GREATLY use it in the spiritual world to help aid our side of the battle. Until the return of Jesus, Christians are soldiers for Christ in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil for the sake of the salvation of souls (people). Jesus is saving souls (people) and we are His hands and feet.
We are warriors for Christ in our pain and suffering and GREATLY advance the Kingdom of God if we unite our suffering in our minds and hearts to His suffering on the Cross. Our pain and suffering has meaning. It has purpose.
It is now found in Him. He will use it for the good that He wants done in the world. You are His warrior. You are His solider. He is relying on you to unite your suffering to His suffering to use for His purpose -- the salvation of souls and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Will you let your suffering take on such great purpose as this?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to hope in Love.