The Value of Suffering
Credopedia The Value of Suffering


The Value of Suffering

Suffering in itself is senseless. It is absurd and has no value. God does not want suffering, just as He does not want death. Rather, God wants every human being to be happy. But why then do humans suffer?

mins read | Stani Mičkovicová

Where is God when I suffer?

Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why so many disasters and wars? Why so much injustice? Why sickness, why death? One does not need to have lived on this earth for a particularly long time to experience the ubiquitous nature of human suffering. Every person, regardless of age or wealth, knows suffering. The reality of suffering painfully reminds us that there are things we cannot control.

The closer suffering and death come to humans, the more urgent questions about their origin and meaning become. Almost everyone has experienced situations where suffering and pain seem almost unbearable. In those moments, the question inevitably arises: “Where is God when I suffer?”

The paradox of freedom

According to the Christian faith, Jesus, through his death, took upon Himself the suffering of all people in all times. But why is there still suffering in this world? Why do we have to die if Jesus has conquered death? The answer to this question is not simple. And yet there is one. It has to do with the gift of freedom. God loves us and wants us to respond to his love. However, He wants us to choose Him and to choose goodness freely. For this, He has given us free will. God challenges us to shape our lives, together with Him, our Creator! But as paradoxical as it may sound, in our freedom, we can also turn against God. And thereby, against life in abundance, against our own happiness.

Sin and suffering

Sin as a synonym for separation from God – even many Catholics struggle with this idea. The term “sin” seems to become more and more foreign. Yet, it is sin that makes our lives difficult. It is not God who punishes people: It is SIN itself that punishes us, either my sin or the sin of another, for sin gives room to evil. Even the most hidden sin, always has a social dimension. It inevitably brings suffering with it. This means: Whoever sins, never sins only for himself or herself alone. He or she inevitably harms others as well. Moreover, where sin reigns, not only do humans suffer but also nature and the entire planet.

The Power of reconciliation

Where is God when people suffer? To do this question justice, we must be willing to look at ourselves, too: Where are we when injustice happens? How do we contribute concretely to peace? When was the last time we asked someone for forgiveness or forgave someone who has wronged us? And how often do we allow God to forgive us?

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus has given us a wonderful opportunity to break with the evil of sin and experience his salvation. Wherever reconciliation takes place, evil is expelled, and a piece of paradise returns to earth. This is why Jesus became man, suffered, and died on the cross: To restore the paradise we have lost through sin.

Suffering in the light of faith: Chiara Corbella Petrillo

Even a faithful person experiences the suffering that befalls them initially as disaster. They, too, cannot understand with their minds why God allows bad things to happen. The painful situation remains. They cannot change it, but as Christians, they can accept it and offer it up. It depends on their inner attitude: Suffering can either separate them from God or unite them intimately with God.

Chiara Corbella Petrillo, a young Italian mother, is living proof that all things work for good for those who love God…(Romans 8:28) Even an incurable illness! Chiara was diagnosed with cancer in the fifth month of her pregnancy. To protect the unborn child, she postponed the risky treatment until after the birth of her son. Francesco was born healthy, but Chiara died shortly after his first birthday on June 13, 2012, at the age of 28. She left her son a letter, which included the following: “Never be discouraged, my son. God never takes anything away. And if He takes away, it is only because He wants to give you so much more. … We know that you are special and that you have a great mission. The Lord has wanted you from eternity, and He will show you the road to follow if you open your heart. Trust Him. It is worth the while.”

The Value of Suffering

A person who, like Chiara Corbella, has encountered Christ, suffers differently. In the face of the Crucified, suffering is no longer senseless. Suffering borne in love becomes fruitful, for you and for others! You don’t always have to understand the suffering that has befallen you or others. Nor do you have to seek out suffering. But when it comes to you, you can look to Jesus. He suffers with you when you suffer. Since Christ suffered, your suffering also has a redemptive value. So, look up to the cross when something hurts you and listen to what Jesus wants to tell you in the depths of your heart.

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your holy crossYou have redeemed the world.