An online journal created to seek meaning and purpose, to feel,

to dream, to discover, to spread joy and light, to love all of creation,

to glorify and magnify the Creator.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Suffering

In continuation to my previous post,

Amidst the times of suffering that I have endured, recently more than ever,
I constantly strived to "embrace my cross", "to be joyful and to see suffering as a blessing". This approach, whenever I was reminded of it, brought me a sense of comfort as it temporarily suppressed my pain and reminded me of the degree to which Christ willingly suffered on the cross for me.
Before all of this, I never really stopped to question why it is that we have to suffer and why it is that Jesus had to die on the cross. The only answer I knew was "to take away the sins of the world". But how? Why did it have to be that way? Why does pain and suffering have to exist in the world?

Having gone so far astray that I didn't even recognize my surroundings anymore, the last thing I needed  at the time were more questions.
Last Friday, I attended morning mass and enjoyed breakfast with a beautiful sister of mine, prior to the math quiz that was causing so much anxiety in me. I am so grateful that to be able to feel at peace for once, even if it was only for a few hours. Later on in the day, Alissa accompanied me to listen to a talk by Scott Roy entitled, "If God is Good, why is there suffering?". Never had anything been so fitting. So illuminating.

Scott Roy witnessed his wife come close to tasting death in front of his eyes during her childbirth and recently discovered that his six year old son is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and might not make it to the age of 12. Scott evidently underwent his fair share of suffering. Throughout this trauma, his faith and trust in the Lord remained strong.
I want to share his story and his message. Hopefully I will be able to recollect everything that I heard that night and reiterate Scott's insights to the same degree, so that I can look back at this whenever I need to.

"C.S. Lewis posed a question that my heart has longed to answer, in his book "The Problem of Pain". 
If God is good, he would want the best for His people. He would wish their happiness for them. 
If God is all-powerful, He would be capable of making that happen. 
So then, if God is both good and all-powerful, why is it that suffering exists in the world?

In order to answer the initial question: "Why does suffering exist?", we need to undergo a major paradigm shift.
What does it mean that God is good?
What is happiness?
What does it mean that God is almighty?

When we ask the question,"if God is both good and all-powerful, why is it that suffering exists?", we are pretty much searching long and hard for an answer that lies right in front of us. 
Asking God to take away suffering is asking God for a contradiction. 
Similar to asking God to create a four-sided triangle, it's absolute nonsense.
Yes, God is all-powerful, but he only does things that are possible. God does not make contradictions. He only makes things that make sense.
We must also consider that just because something does not make sense to us, it does not mean that it doesn't make sense at all. The idea of suffering is above us. 
Many people do not understand quantum physics, yet this does not mean that quantum physics does not exist.

God is love. And His object of affection is us. 
God did not need to make us. We are merely a creation of His overflowing love spilled out and therefore we are abundant. 
This, by definition, makes us"good".
But once again, although God loves us, He cannot create a contradiction. 
He desires for us to experience His glory, to be united with Him in Heaven, to know, to be known, to love and to be loved".
And the only way to be able to do this is if we are able to freely think and if we are able to freely choose. 
We need a REAL choice.
God cannot give us free will, yet create no choice as this is a contradiction. 
He made us rational creatures because without reason and rationality, we cannot truly know, be known, love and be loved.
It is this that opens up the possibility for suffering.

But it is possible to heal from this. Through Love. 
Love covers a multitude of sins. It is the language of God. The end goal. 
Love is the answer to all suffering.
In Love, we find our purpose: to give the gift of ourselves, to sacrifice ourselves just as Jesus did on the cross. 
The Kingdom IS love and it can only be experienced when we freely choose to enter it through Love.
When we recoil from giving and refuse to sacrifice, then that abode of love and self-gift will not be a Heaven for us.
It is in loving completely that we find total union with God and experience Heaven. 

Suffering is inevitable. It is integral to humanity.
When we understand that suffering IS the Master's hand working on a canvas for every living soul, it becomes easier to understand why it is so necessary. 
If we reject this hand, we'll never achieve the perfection, the glory, that God desired for us.  
We must allow the artist to scrape away. To work on us.

In turn, we must embrace our crosses because they lead us into the glory that He desired for us. Suffering, and how one deals with it is a major defining aspect of every religion, yet in no other religion does the God freely turn Himself into man, endure the most painful of human suffering and come out victorious. God did this to save us from sin, to bring us back to Him and to bring us to salvation. 
He came down and humbled himself in order to open the doorway to victory and take part in what He always desired for us. 
By diving into the suffering of humanity and dying on the cross, He shows us that suffering is a part of our Glory.

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