Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On suffering

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of him who has loved us.” Romans 8:35, 37

All of us have encountered people in our lives who will claim that something bad destroyed their faith. It’s the old “problem of suffering”. They might say that if there is a God, that He could not will bad things to happen, because evil cannot come from pure goodness. This is simply good reasoning in a narrow scope. The problem is that God’s goodness is bigger than simply willing perfect earthly happiness. His desire for us is to behold His glory, sharing in His perfect love for an eternity in Heaven.

Love freely chosen is infinitely superior to robotic mind control. I think everyone could agree upon that. Because God wants us to choose Him freely, out of love, it necessarily follows that there are going to be people who don’t desire God. We call this rejection of goodness, sin. It is in the world because God is willing the greater good of free will. Sadly, rejection of goodness is responsible for a great multitude of sufferings, wars and famine, family conflicts and the devaluing of human life.

There is, however, a suffering that seems more scandalous. It is the scandal of the cross. Every saint has encountered it and considers it a great gift. It is the suffering that arises out of no consequence of personal sin, but in the invitation to walk the steps with Christ to Calvary. Each of us, in order to purify our love for our Lord must consider what we are attached to that keeps us from fully loving. Suffering helps us do this. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” If we can get through trials, distresses, poverty, or even death with the love of Christ as our strength, Faith has conquered.

Thankfully, I have encountered more people in my life whose faith has been strengthened by suffering. It is those whose faith was built upon firm ground. Whenever I get to talk to one of these inspirational people, it fills me with a humble thought. Please, God, when my suffering comes, shower me with the grace to glorify You.

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