Does life mean suffering?
Thanks for taking my question
In a word…yes. And no. Gasp!
The reality is, we live in a fallen world. This is SO not the garden of Eden, folks. You know it. I know it. Yep. I’m reading a certain book right now so I’m going to hit you with some awesome mystic nun knowledge contained therein:
“Nothing is as constant as suffering — it always faithfully keeps the soul company.” (Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska)
Womp womp womp.
But let’s not forget the context of this dreary sounding quote!
“In the midst of trials I will try to see the loving hand of God. Nothing is as constant as suffering — it always faithfully keeps the soul company. O Jesus, I will let no one surpass me in loving You!”
So basically there will be trials during our time on Earth and there will be suffering. But God promises to be there with us through it all, and to give us His strength. Jesus Christ intimately knows what it is to experience human suffering. Our human suffering. Meditate on His passion if you have any doubts.
But (spoiler alert!) we’re not living these brief human lives to have fun or to be comfortable. God doesn’t promise us ease and comfort. He does promise us mercy, redemption and love. This life is but a training ground for all eternity with our Creator…a paradise beyond our imaginations.
However, as your parents might have said when you complained about whatever difficulty or perceived hardship you had going on…”it builds character!” Bad haircut? It builds character! Horrible boss who seems out to get you? It builds character!
St Faustina, back me up here:
“In prayer I always find light and strength of spirit although there are moments so trying and hurtful, that is is sometimes difficult to imagine that these things can happen in a convent. Strangely, God sometimes allows them, but always in order to manifest or develop virtue in a soul. That is the reason for trials.” (Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska)
Just a sidenote: Even in a group of souls dedicated to serving and worshiping the Lord, things can go crazy bad sometimes. See, perfectionists! We’re all limited human people.
ANYWAY…how is character, or virtue, developed if we never face any challenges?
“To achieve true interior freedom we must train ourselves to accept, peacefully and willingly, plenty of things that seem to contradict our freedom. This means consenting to our personal limitation, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation imposes on us, and so on. We find it difficult to do this, because we feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control. But the fact is that the situations that really make us grow are precisely those we do not control.” Fr Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom)
So we’re going to be faced with trials, with situations we can’t control. In the midst of these scenarios, I like to remember this bible quote:
“For I know well the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11) BOOM. Or this quote:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise Him.” (Psalm 28:7)
I don’t need to be the “shield”…that’s God’s job. I can either be discouraged by my limitations, or remember that when I am weak, God is my strength. There is always hope. As we move and grow from being self-centered to being God-centered, we can see His hand working in our lives and give the glory where it’s due…to God.
There is so much more to be said on the subject of suffering but I feel prone to rambling right now! Please share your thoughts in the comments section…We’d love to hear from you.
So good and honest. I love the yes and no dichotomy and how both the good and bad things relate to one another.