Every person, at some time in their life, will find themselves confronted by suffering either personally or in their immediate surroundings. It seems to be the end. Everything collapses And the question springs up: Why? and above all, Why me? What did I do wrong? This is the moment of devastation or revolt in which we may decide to turn away from God.
- This is a completely human and normal reaction, because man is not made for suffering. But while it disrupts the comfort of our life and wounds our heart, at the same time, suffering reveals the inner thirst for happiness that is present in every person. Ultimately, suffering touches the most profound mystery of our being, reminding us of the good for which we were created (happiness) and of which we are deprived. It manifests itself as a lack of something.
- At first, we are not able to accept suffering, because, in itself, it is intolerable. It makes us afraid and we reject it, because we were made for life. At the same time, in dealing with suffering, we are drawn beyond the fear of it, to a kind of respect and, most profoundly, into compassion. However, despite all that we can do concretely, we remain powerless. This is because suffering, either my own or that of another, touches the mystery which is part of myself, and which, at the same time, is far beyond me: the mystery of humanity and the mystery of evil with its roots sunk deep into history and into the human soul.
- So, finally, it is to God, as the Creator and Lord of the world, that we turn with our question about suffering. And there is a great temptation to believe God is the author of evil. «If God was good, he would not permit it, he wouldn’t act in this way…» This is actually what has happened since original sin (see Q31). God himself has not changed. It is we who have changed.
- But maybe we have something to discover from the One who saved us from evil: «Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.»( Matt. 11:28) This is one of the sayings of Jesus Christ, of whom the Scripture says: «He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows»(Isaiah 53:4). He who was put to death unjustly so that «by his wounds we are healed» (Isaiah 53:5).
- What do we learn from Jesus’ life and what is said about him in the Gospel? It is not a God of justice who comes to us, but a humble God, «a suffering servant», who comes to totally embrace the human condition with its suffering in order to console us and help us to bear our own suffering.
«God did not come to eliminate suffering, he did not come to explain it, but he came to fill it with his presence,» says Paul Claudel. And He reached the depths of suffering.
- Christ goes even further: he offers his suffering to save us, and for all those we love thereby opening up a way of life. And he invites us to learn from him. Like the 18-year-old diabetic girl: «Jesus loves us and doesn’t allow us to endure a suffering that is too heavy. He has confidence in us and he allows us to share in his mission which is to restore the whole world to the Father. It is a joy to participate in such a mission when God is the director!»