Presentded during Catholic Prison Ministry:
Some people don’t believe in God because they can’t understand how a loving, compassionate God could allow suffering. Along with my desire to tell them about God I want to talk to them about the matter of suffering.
It isn’t easy to explain to someone why it seems at times that God doesn’t answer our prayers? Christian writers over the centuries have given explanations for this. What I gather from their answers is that God wants us to have strong faith. God wants us to trust that he will do what’s right for us. God wants us to have faith and trust in him in spite of our suffering.
When it feels like God is not answering our pray, we need to pray even more and keep praying. If we do this we may experience an awareness of letting go of what is keeping us from God to complete reliance on God. This is good. This experience brings us closer to God. Can we patiently hope and pray and wait on God? The longer we’re asked to wait the more our prayer is formed to bond us to God. Our faith will increase as we fervently continue to pray. Remember Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Still, suffering can be hard to accept especially when the ones suffering are close to us. When someone asks me about suffering, I tell them that suffering is a gift from God. God never abandons us. We can turn our suffering into goodness and holiness in our lives when we accept it. This might sound impossible but Jesus wants us to unite our suffering with the suffering he endured during his Crucifixion. If we pray for the grace to accept suffering God will give us the grace we need to accept suffering in our lives.
How can we pray for this? Remember how much God loves us. God sent his Son Jesus to save us through his suffering and death. When we remember how much Jesus suffered for us we may be able to ask for God’s help even when our heart is cold. God never abandons us. God loves us no matter what but sometimes we can’t feel God’s love. When we read the lives of Saints we see how much they trusted in God’s Divine Mercy and how they accepted the will of God. Because they trusted in God and accepted God’s will they were able to achieve the level of holiness that helped them get to heaven and to be remembered by us as Saints.
It is during these times when it seems like God has abandoned us that St. John of the Cross calls, “the dark night of the soul,” We must force ourselves to pray during this dark time, even if our prayer is simple repeating the name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus repeating the name of Jesus until we are able to ask him to help us pray. If we pray even when our soul doesn’t feel like it we will receive the grace we need to accept the will of God, to be able to trust Jesus in everything and to feel the love the Holy Spirit will pour into our heart.
Sometimes when I proclaim the good news to you I repeat what Father tells us at Mass or advice he gives during confession. Father’s job is to get us to heaven. This is what he told us: “If we want to know what the future will be like look to Jesus. What has been given to Jesus will be given to us as well. His suffering and joy. If we accept the suffering we will receive the joy of heaven.”
PRAY that God will give us the grace to respond to what he is offering us.
Remember Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He will care for us and carry us when we are suffering as he carries an injured lamb on his shoulders. The more he carries us during our bad times the more we become attached to Him and will want to stay close to Him even in our good times.
God bless you!