There is one person who stands out above all to give an answer to these deepest of questions, namely St. Paul. But now, when I look back on the quality of my prayer, I am embarrassed. In St. Paul’s writings we find a greatly developed meaning of suffering. Mankind chose to … Why does God allow suffering? Let me offer three answers: 1) To let us see the gravity of our choices. God has entered into our pain by coming to this world. Pope Francis wrote quite eloquently about this matter in Lumen Fidei, paragraph 57, when he reminds us that God provides us with an “accompaniment” through our times of pain and suffering. The trolley ride was pleasant enough, but the continual oozing, pus-filled facial sores made passengers stare. Paul understands that the suffering he endures serves as a way to be like Christ, as well as it being for Christ’s sake. Mom’s advice: “This is a life choice you need to make. This is a question that has baffled people for generations and I am going to give you a great theological answer right now: I don’t know. The following four years, every Saturday, week after week, Mom and I would visit the dermatologist’s. The number one lie that Christians are often confronted with is the argument that evil, pain, and suffering prove that there is no God, said author and apologist Mark Mittelberg. My human heart simply can’t comprehend why does God allow pain and suffering sometimes. One can be religious without an ounce of spirituality. It Reminds Us of the Reality of Sin. Now you ask, why does God allow pain, suffering, and failure in our lives? But I sincerely thank God for answering my prayers in an unexpected way 40 years ago. For he fashioned all things that they might have being” -Wisdom 1:13-14. Please help me. He obviously does not. In about four years, the abrasions healed and faded, just in time for job interviews. Give the Gift of NCR: Gift Subscriptions $29.95. God could have prevented all sin and suffering by not creating the universe. This is why Paul can say in his letter to the Galatians that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (2:20) Christ gave himself up for us in the salvific act of his Passion and death; Paul sees himself doing the same in participating in the Passion and death of Christ. In the next column we will consider his outward focus, namely, his view on how his suffering affects others. Through his suffering, Paul sees himself as participating in the Passion of Christ. For Paul to live is gain because while he suffers in this life he is imitating Christ and becoming more Christ-like. In this column we will consider Paul’s inward focus, the way in which he sees himself, through his suffering, as participating in salvation, especially the Passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. He says: “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. ... Save Yourself Some Pain. Ever. Jesus’ death for us shows just how much He cares and understands. The myth of Creation in Genesis makes a clumsy effort to explain the suffering, pain and violence of our natural world including humans by explaining that God created everything perfect, but the Original Sin and the Fall corrupted Creation, and humanity. I sucked it up — and continued to pray for a miracle. Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering? Posted by cathbread On October 24, 2018 In COMMENTS No comments I want to answer the question partly from a scientific point of view, but the rest will have philosophical or religious underpinnings. No matter how many rosaries I recited, my sores weren’t going to magically dissolve in an instant. As I rushed out of the office, sobbing, Mom promised me, “We’ll get this fixed.” Sure enough, she did her research and found a well-regarded dermatologist at a teaching hospital. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever. Printed with permission from the Northern Cross, Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. My biggest mistake confused spirituality and religion. There is this intimate bond between the cross, the epitome of the sufferings of Christ, and the suffering of the people which is a participation in the self-same cross. I embraced the spiritual foundation program, enmeshed in continual prayer: prayers of petition (“Please, fix my face!”), prayers of bargaining (“If you fix my face, I’ll spend the rest of my life doing good works!”), prayers of pity (“God, you are not listening to me.”). If he forced their choice, it wouldn’t be free. So whether he lives and suffers, leading to the resurrection for himself and others, or dies and shares in the resurrection himself alone, he will be united to Christ and be an example for all. Paul reveals to us the paradox of the cross. Summers between semesters were spent working as a file clerk in center city. Never finding an answer to the big question. Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. Yet we allow human beings to suffer needlessly, which in many cases only worsens with the passage of time. It is God the Father who provides the answer to the problem of suffering: it consists in the fact that he "gives" his Son to the world. He writes a monthly catechetical article for The Northern Cross, of the Diocese of Duluth, and is a contributing author to the Association for Catechumenal Ministry's R.C.I.A. God does not like pain and suffering, nor did He create the world for it. Day one, I lay 12 hours on the hot, burning sand and returned to the hotel feeling sick. We should never kill or harm an animal without serious reasons, though they are not human. Another dimension of Paul’s thought on the meaning of suffering is his conception of suffering as a means for sanctification, keeping pride at a minimum and trust in God at a maximum. The small environment, daily visits to chapel and a spiritual director provided comfort. Suffering is his way of “becoming like him (Christ) in his death” so that he “may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). If God is the benevolent creator and sustainer of life depicted in Christian tradition, then he should be able and willing to eliminate our pain and suffering. A cancer patient will come in after being diagnosed and they look fairly healthy in the beginning but once treatment starts I can not stress enough how it wreaks havoc on their bodies. You said God (if He exists) could have created only those people that would not cause suffering, namely sin. Suffering refines us. & Lay Apostolate for the Diocese of Duluth. Pain, serious illness, disability, abject poverty and failure all readily come to mind as things that God allows us to endure - … Because we are being saved through the death and resurrection of Christ we must participate in his Passion to obtain salvation. When the question is raised, “why does God allow pain and suffering?” it’s usually because we feel pain and suffering is unjust. The only answer [to the "why" of suffering] can come from the love of God in the Cross (cf. God is not distant. [Maryanne J. Kane received her doctorate from Temple University in music education and teaches music on the elementary level. We are talking why God allows suffering. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition program at the Maryvale Institute. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:19-21). They came along as fallout from the sin of Adam. Why a new consecration to St. Joseph is spreading like wildfire, ‘Canceled’ radical feminists and the Catholic Church: These unlikely allies believe women are female, Founder of Protestant movement returns to Catholic Church, Southern California Catholics pray for kidnapped Nigerian Bishop with strong ties to the area. We see elsewhere in Philippians this notion of imitating Christ being gain for Paul, whether in death or life. One can also be spiritual without much religion. This may sound funny, but difficulties and hardships can be blessings in disguise. It’s possible, therefore, for God to create beings with the kind of free will that can choose between good and evil, but he can’t also force those creatures to choose good. It is in weakness that we are more apt to trust in Christ because we realize that what we accomplish is not of our own doing, but the grace of Christ is working in us. Pray to God for strength to endure this cross.”. He has a valid question and I don’t know how to answer him. Working in the Oncology field has opened my eyes to this even more so. Sometimes God allows His people to endure much for the sake of fortitude, even as we call upon Him for help and sustenance. Participants Book. He is not the cosmic sadist. It took me a long time to realize what that means. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Suffering is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way Paul can become like Christ. Maybe in 1978, I couldn’t see the wisdom of a loving God providing me with a wise mom’s advice to get over myself. This is why he says in 1 Corinthians: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:18). Perhaps non-believers recognize that they would need to change, radically, if Christianity turned out to be true. Every morning, I joined the working world on the 13 trolley. Many have been puzzled by the suffering we see in our world. He says, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (Philippians 1:24) Also, to die is gain because if he were to die he would share in the resurrection of Christ. They can be a catalyst for achieving new heights in our personal and spiritual lives. Evil is sin and suffering, death. We suffer “to make us rely, not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Turn Suffering into Holiness. Even if suffering is not inherently good, it can produce good if we endure it, allow it to purify us, and make it into a sacrifice. Brian holds an M.A. I asked him, “Won’t that leave scars all over my face?”. We also wonder in these dark times how God relates to human pain, injury, violence and involuntary suffering. This is also why Paul can say elsewhere in Galatians: “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world…Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (6:14, 17). Read these Top 9 Bible Verses-Why Does God Allow Suffering? St. John Vianney had plenty of opportunities to “offer up” his suffering. Thus participation in the cross through suffering is a way of obtaining grace, the power of God to participate in salvation. Northern Cross, Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. And change tends to involve suffering in direct proportion. Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of … This tract tackles a very sincere and tough question, one that’s been called the skeptics’ “silver bullet.” If God is loving and all-powerful and could end suffering, disease, and death, why hasn’t He? In suffering, when united to Christ, death now means life. Brian Pizzalato is the Director of Catechesis, R.C.I.A. She has written essays in Catholic Philly and Newsweek. This passage follows a text where Paul speaks about all he had gained according to the flesh, being a Hebrew and a Pharisee. That’s why, in the Meaning of Suffering presented by Good Catholic, we’ll unlock the teachings of the Church, the examples of the saints, and the life of Christ to help you not only make sense out of suffering, but use it … He says: “And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Through that participation God allows us to participate in the economy of salvation and the flow of grace to all who suffer. There are those who argue that we put down dogs, cats, horses, and other animals to relieve their pain. Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. I began to realize that the suffering I felt with a facial disfigurement was nurturing in me a sincere empathy toward others in pain — greater or lesser, it made no difference. Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company | 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111 | 1-800-444-8910. Further, to live is gain because while Paul lives he can spread the faith and be an example for the Christian community. I had to hold tissues to my face when the sores seeped guck. Yes, it’s as disgusting as it sounds. Learn more here. Because of the incarnation, the Son of God suffered on the cross, though in his human nature, not God’s divine nature. Unfortunately, the sharing from various jars infected the open blisters. If God really is our Abba-Father, our “loving Daddy,” how can God allow his children to starve, to be abused, to suffer from terminal illnesses? But he did show us that suffering can be embraced and offered back to God the Father as a kind of atonement for sins. This problem arises with ancient anthropomorphic image of God Created by an ancient Biblical world view. Then I remind myself that I was young. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. St. Paul explains the meaning of suffering. ibid., n. 13). We receive here an insight into the effectiveness of grace. It’s a torment we cannot fathom. My biggest regret? C. S. Lewis put it this way: “If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God.” However, he now considers this gain to be loss and refuse, compared to gaining Christ through his sufferings. The cliché “Time heals all wounds” had truth. And yet these theological theories bring no peace while reading a newspaper filled with war, cruelty, desolation. The more sin abounds, the more suffering abounds. They are, however, an inevitable part of our temporal life on earth. When it comes to emotional suffering, many Christians wonder about mental illness. Who hasn’t asked this big question: “Why does God permit pain and suffering when God could easily end pain and suffering?”. God gave us … Jesus’ passion and death also gave meaning to suffering. We never ask that question about the pain and suffering of a life term sentence for someone who has committed murder — because, we understand it was a consequence of their actions, and we reason that they deserve it as a result of what they did. My pain, upon reflection, became my biggest opportunity for growth. Jesus, the perfect One, had all the sins of the world thrown on Him! It won’t be the first difficult experience for you. I didn’t stay home. I had joined fellow high school graduates for the traditional senior week at the Jersey Shore — what’s not to love about that? Pain, suffering and death are integral parts of the material world due to Adam's sin, but Christianity offers hope through the suffering of Jesus Christ. He gains righteousness not through his own power but through Christ’s. The presence of evil and suffering in the universe is certainly consistent with there not being an omnipotent, omniscience, and omnibenevolent god. Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering in the World? And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. My husband has an issue with why God allows illness, pain, suffering especially children who are born mentally or physically handicapped. As we noted in the prior answer, omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do what is logically impossible. When he arrived at his parish in 1818, there were … Christ lives in him when he is “crucified with Christ.” John Paul II notes that “Christ also becomes in a particular way united to the man, Paul, through the cross” (SD, 20). About 40 years ago, I remember praying, pleading, begging, tearfully imploring God for a miracle. In conclusion, suffering with chronic pain is a phenomenon that has and will continue throughout the course of human history. 2. 2021 EWTN lineup will see new arrivals, some departures. My suspicion is that the best answer to this question is that your god probably doesn't exist. God allows us to participate in his suffering. ], Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Furthermore, it is in our weakness and suffering that we grow in humility and cannot pride ourselves in our accomplishments. God does not cause the suffering, but he allows it, but the real source of suffering is sin. Paul says: “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Eventually, I came to see my experience with the eye of my soul. Suffering is the result of mankind’s sin and rebellion against God (Genesis 3). I can give testament, however, that what seemed like endless pain at the time was really an eternal blessing. Best. Brian is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute and is also in the process of writing the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. Fortunately, I attended a private women’s Catholic college. Why Does God Allow Suffering? One plausible answer might be the obligations, religious and moral, that would logically follow if Jesus were God. Grace helps us to participate in the salvific act of suffering and to be content with it. Our family doctor recommended slicing into the sores to relieve the ever-swelling facial pus-bags. I try to explain about free will and the consequences of it, but he says that unborn children do not have a choice. Many, many, many mornings, when the sores were especially active, I just wanted hide in my room. Jesus gets our pain. Suffering is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way Paul can become like Christ. Friends administered cold creams, moisturizers, baby oil, even Vaseline on the burns. Easier said than done. “Why does a loving God permit pain?” I can honestly say, for the life of me, I don’t know. Surely in 1978, God gifted me with the grace to transcend a painful experience and evolve into a more compassionate person. We see in these verses of 2 Corinthians 12 that this suffering is once again “for the sake of Christ.” It is through grace that Paul can be content with suffering. The question is often asked: “If God is all-powerful and all-good, why does He allow suffering?” For some, this is not just an abstract logical conundrum, but a deeply personal cry of despair, welling up from intense personal pain. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11). Regardless of when or why the question of pain and suffering is posed, one can propose that it is a problem primarily in the Christian worldview. Who hasn’t asked this big question: “Why does God permit pain and suffering when God could easily end pain and suffering?” Theological explanations include the … Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR. So even though the person of God suffered in a way, that suffering was kept separate from God’s divine nature. Of course, no one wants or enjoys suffering and hardship. We can read in Isaiah 48:10 that “I have refined you, though not as silver; I have … No, I don’t have a big answer to the big question. What is acedia, how do you pronounce it, and why does this priest tweet about it? Novel takes us on aging priest's road trip, The Epiphany of the Lord: Look for God among us, Catholic Extension receives $1.5 million grant for Puerto Rico recovery work, Amid travel break, pope cheers Lisbon youth jamboree plans, Amid cover-up allegations, German prelate steps down from lay organization, Latino communities have enriched the church, pope says, Bishops approve pandemic-influenced budget for 2021, West Virginia high court deals setback in state's Catholic church suit, Let Advent be a time to listen and wonder, At audience, pope renews commitment to fight abuse, From Vatican Gardens, pope leads rosary to pray for pandemic's end, The Life: In prayer, sisters find the unconditional love of God. Instead, He forewarned the man and allowed him to decide for himself. Painful facial injections of Retin-A were applied to the huge, discolored open sores. The next morning, I woke up bloated, blistered, nauseous and weak. So using your reasoning, God would not create people that would Knowingly sin, but He would also not create people whose actions would cause other people to sin. Jesus never promised to rid the world of suffering. A 20-year-old’s depth of prayer for a miracle, while self-serving and myopic, is still a testament of belief in God. To be crucified usually means death, but for Paul it means Christ living in him. EarthBeat Weekly: Environmental justice, action, spirituality among top themes for 2021, In compelling 'Hillbilly Elegy,' Adams, Close give strong performances, Cross-shaped solar array lights up Mundelein Seminary for New Year, Glimpse of the divine — or wishful thinking? Is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way can. 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