Is Suffering truly Redemptive?

30 Nov

The answer is “Yes.”  Yes, suffering is truly redemptive.

I’m sure you are familiar with the age-old questions, “Why do we suffer?”  “Why is suffering so difficult?”  “If God is so loving, why would He make us suffer?”

During college I went on a silent retreat.  The priest who led the retreat focused on the theme of suffering.  The priest told us how we, as humans, can and should view suffering.  

I would like to share with you the notes that I took during the retreat.

(As I write, I’m assuming the reader is familiar with suffering in some way, shape or form and has a basic understanding of the Christian belief of redemptive suffering.  If I assume wrongly, bear with me:)  I assure you the read is worth it.)

What follows are quotes from the retreat talks.  Allow these words to run refreshing waters to your soul,  ointment to your wounds, bells of joyful answers to your questions about “WHHHYYY????  DO WE SUUUUFFER??”  The words of the priest are in the following quotes from my notes.  *Note: Emphasis on words in Italics are my own.  Also, the words in parentheses are my own.)

(*NOTE: I am writing this post about suffering because recently I was thinking about suffering and the purpose of suffering, therefore pulled out my notes from this retreat.  Re-reading the explanation on the purpose of suffering  was most enlightening.)

  • “Make time for prayer.  We must live because life is full of meaning and dignity.  We live for God – only for Him.”
  • “Nobody enjoys suffering.  We must unite our suffering with Christ, because it is only through union with Him that we can happily suffer.  Suffering is bearable because of the hope that our suffering will end.  We must not be Stoic (indifferent) about suffering.  We must desire for the hope of suffering to be alleviated.  We must not become callous to suffering because there is a reason why we suffer.”
  • “The world is intrinsically good.  We must have a balanced life with pleasures, sufferings, work, prayer, etc.  We must not be centered on ourselves.  Christianity sees suffering as a gift!
  • (Let me say that again.  “Christianity sees!”  Until you view suffering as a gift, you will never fully understand the redemptive value of suffering.  *I’m still working on understanding suffering as a gift, so if you are working on that too, that makes two of us:)
  • “The Cross is the wisdom of God.  Jesus let Himself suffer.  Jesus suffers in His humanity and His divinity.  Jesus urges us to take up our crosses and follow Him, otherwise we cannot be His disciples.  Jesus invites us to suffer and to offer it up with His sufferings.  We, in order to suffer most fully, must keep our eyes focused on Jesus.  Suffering helps us keep in tune with God.  It helps us realize and remember how dependent we are upon God.  Suffering is a means of purification.”
  • “Job (the man in the Bible who had everything taken from him, and who, during his suffering, kept looking to God and knew that God was allowing Job’s suffering) is a prefiguration of the suffering Christ.  God draws good from every circumstance.”
  • “God does not put conditions on His love.  We must love unconditionally. We must love, even if we are betrayed by family, friends, spouse and everyone.  If betrayed, we must still have love for that person.”
  • “It is not wrong to ask The Lord ‘why’ He has given us sufferings.  The worst thing to do when we are suffering is to look inward at ourselves.  The best thing to do is to look at God when we are suffering.”
  • “The only way to properly bear suffering is to look for The Light of Christ.  Christ is the One Who suffered for all.  John 3:16 speaks of Jesus’ love for us.”
  • “The worst suffering is to suffer eternal death.”  (Let’s read that again.  The worst suffering is to suffer eternal death.)
  • “How are we to suffer?  Why do we suffer?  When we are given a heavy cross to carry, we must suffer for Christ because we love Him.  Jesus has made suffering good through His Redemption of the human race.  Jesus made suffering redemptive.  Suffering without love is useless.  A Christian should rejoice in his sufferings because Jesus has redeemed suffering and has made it good.  We are all called to suffer because we all partake in the Redemption of Christ.”
  • “If I’m called to love by suffering, how do I suffer?  Suffering is present in the world in order to release love into the world.  Our suffering must always be for love.  In suffering do we instantly offer it up to God?  Do we suffer without complaining?  Do we suffer patiently, knowing that sooner or later our suffering will end?  Are we merciful to our persecutors?  The more we love, the more merciful we will be.  We must pray for those who persecute us.  If we really want to love, we must learn to forgive.  Mercy demands extraordinary strength.
  • Suffering is passing and very valuable because it opens up for us the way to God.  We know what love is – that Jesus suffered on the Cross for us.  Suffering is the means to our end.”  (Suffering is the means to our end!!  That’s the answer to the question about why we suffer!!!!  NOTE:  1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.”   We have hope that one day, through our prayer and virtuous living, we will be able to enjoy eternal happiness with God in Heaven where there will be no more suffering.)
  • “Hebrews 12 says, ‘Jesus, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross.’  Do we receive suffering as a gift?  Those who love greatly suffer greatly too.”
  • In the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Suffering is Jesus kissing us.”

Let us embrace every moment of suffering with love for God so that, our crosses united with His Cross, we can merit Heaven where there will be no crosses, no suffering, and Eternal Life with GOD. 



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