Why does a God who is supposed to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving allow human beings to suffer? This question gets brought up by Christians and non-believers alike. There aren’t any easy answers, to be honest. Humans were born with a tendency to sin ever since the original sin of Adam and Eve.
People make choices that can change things for the worse either accidentally or on purpose. Bad things happen to good people. It’s a fact of life. I’m not here to try and solve that problem of evil. I’m not here to lie to you and say that all your problems will go away overnight. The answer I always hear about why bad things happen is because God allows them to and that he works the trials and tribulations we suffer into His will.
It’s not an answer we like to hear. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to make do with what we have in front of us. Jesus wasn’t exactly spared from suffering, either. Being crucified wasn’t exactly a picnic. In fact, the word “excruciating” comes from the Latin word for cross and torture. To the Romans, the cross was a torture device, meant to make the people on the cross struggle to breathe, with the person eventually dying of asphyxiation.
Today’s passage from 1 Peter says that when we suffer, we share in Christ’s sufferings. An intense experience I had at my college retreat was a very dramatized version of that.During one of my retreats in college, we did something called the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, as created by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
These exercises put you into the stories of the Bible and let you experience them through meditation and visualization. The passage that my friends and I meditated on was the one of the Good Thief. As the retreat leaders read the story of the Good Thief, they wanted us to imagine ourselves on the cross, with nails in our hands and feet.
Given the overactive imagination I had, I immediately saw myself on a cross. I felt a cold breeze flowing through my hands and feet, as if they were pierced. My back suddenly felt painful, as if something hard was pressed against it. I started hyperventilating as I imagined myself looking at Jesus and saying
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
I gasped and open my eyes, as if waking up from the worst nightmare. My body was still shaking. But it was over. Never feel like you are the only one in the world who feels the pain that you feel. Christ Crucified feels your pain and is taking it with Him to Heaven.
It sounds easy to say “Hand it over” or “Offer it up,” almost dismissive of the pain. But to quote one of my favorite authors: “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” So acknowledge the pain that you feel. Acknowledge the trials that you have to endure. Then look at the crucified Christ and ask him to help you get through it.
Today’s featured song is from Matt Maher’s “Saints and Sinners” album called “Firelight.” Matt Maher said that this song was inspired by the life of Mother Teresa, who had to endure a great interior suffering on top of all of the trials and tribulations in her life. I think this song is a wonderful prayer for those who are seeking for God’s love and strength in their sufferings and trials.
I pray that whatever trials you endure, you come out of it stronger, dearest sisters in Christ!