My Take on The Hidden Meaning of Suffering

17 Oct

Wednesday of last week I came home early from work and spent the remainder of the day laying down, on the couch or in my bed.  It was as though my body suddenly took over and was throwing an awful hissy fit of pain, earaches, and crazy. Blah.

Ever since then, my body has gone through a long and painful progression of earaches, sore throats, coughing, sneezing, moaning, more sore throat, more coughing and more coughing…..

It’s been awful.  To say the least.  My sisters, coming and going from the house ask, “how are you feeling?”  And pretty much every time they get the same response, “I feel like crap.”  They each very generously have taken care of me by making me comfort food – namely: tea, chicken noodle soup, and breakfast in bed. (And for that, I will eternally grateful!)

With sinuses going crazy and a body wracked in pain due to the velocity of the coughs, for a while I felt like I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Point being?? you might ask.

Multiple times over the past few days, I’ve pondering the meaning of suffering.  As I coughed and hacked and blew my nose, I thought about my suffering.  I felt so cruddy.  I mean, very aggravated in body and in spirit.  I was taking cough medicine, then ibuprofen, then cough drops, then more cough medicine, and every four hours or so, I was repeating the cycle.

One day over the past week, as I sat in my bed, my thoughts suddenly turned to the suffering of other people.  I thought about those people who don’t believe in God.  I thought of the people who have no family to be there for them.  I thought to myself, “someone else needs my prayers right now.”  I turned from my introspection about my crummy cold, and looked out (through the eyes of my heart) to see who else might be in pain and in need of prayers.  Ever since I was little, I was taught that when we suffer (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) that these are opportunities to offer it up for the good of other people who need prayers and God’s aid.

I believe that God uses our good efforts on others’ behalf, and that He has the ability to use our good works or prayers for the good of another person.

Some people think that God is evil and that He inflicts suffering on us “just because.”

Other people believe that God doesn’t necessarily inflict pain on us and that we inflict it on ourselves somehow, and that God just sits back and watches.

Still others believe that at the fall of creation, when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, all of creation fell with them – hence concupiscence – our inclination towards evil.  Through the first fall, evil was brought into the world.  And our tendency to grumble and mumble and be ungrateful came with that.

I believe in this last belief, and that God “allows” evil insofar as we (people all over the world) have a tendency toward sin and evil, as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and that the state of our being, and that of the whole world, has been altered ever since.  God still allows us to exercise our free will.

Now do I believe that we choose to get sick or that we choose to allow natural disasters to happen? No.  But I believe that God allows those things to happen for a hidden reason.  Perhaps to strengthen us in prayer.  Or perhaps to strengthen our faith.  Or perhaps to avoid self-pity and instead to think of others who have much greater suffering than we do.  Like that man or woman who is in the hospital, and visits other patients who are lonely.  Or like the child with cancer, who has his or her parents bring in toys for the other sick kids to play with.  When we suffer greatly and heroically, it makes a difference.



(Teddi feel asleep on my bed while I listened to Josh Groban between blowing my nose and coughing.)

Our pain and suffering isn’t meant to turn us into self-pitying people.  Nor is pain and suffering meant to cause bitterness or anger.  Additionally, we should not inflict undue pain on ourselves or others.

RATHER, suffering can and should turn us outward to God and fellow humans who need our prayers and who need us to offer up our sicknesses and crosses for them.  So too, fasting from food and drink and denying ourselves of self-indulgence in other forms is noble and honorable.

Pain and suffering should remind us of our God who suffered and died for OUR SAKE, so that we too, might pick up our crosses and sufferings and offer it up to HIM, to imitate what He so generously and lovingly did for us.

I’m not asking that we all try to get ourselves sick in order to suffer for a greater cause.  What I am saying is that when we to come face-to-face with pain and suffering, why can’t we offer up it up for His (God’s) sake since He can suffer for our sake?

Would you agree?  Why or why not?



2 Responses to “My Take on The Hidden Meaning of Suffering”

  1. LauraMarieForLife October 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Agreed! Suffering just wouldn’t make sense to me without the Catholic interpretation.

  2. Lindsay October 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    I am with you! I was just saying in Bible study this week that the Christian understanding of suffering either makes perfect sense or no sense at all. I’ve picked my side.

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