Why do we suffer?
Not too long ago the daily lectionary was in Job. We all know the story of the innocent man that all of a sudden found himself in a world of hurt. We, and Job, are left with the big question, why?
We all have that sin that just keeps appearing in our confessions. Too many of us have crosses to bear in life that just seem too heavy. The modern world has answered these problems in making “common” sins not sins at all. Our society has also said that if your cross is too heavy you should do whatever is necessary to shirk that cross, the ends justify the means.
Christ teaches us otherwise. Suffering is good for the soul. This is indeed radical. I for one spend most of my time trying to figure my way around suffering. But lets look at the cooperation between sin and comfort. When I had Covid, I had a pretty sinless month. (yep, pride…that’s a sin!) Looking back I understand that when you cannot breathe your mind turns to prayer, not to sin. On the other hand, when I have free time and feel great, I turn to wonderful past times such as gluttony. Sin abounds in good times, in bad times usually it is much easier to keep things under control. As an aside, Christianity in general thrives under persecution.
So, does this mean we should seek out suffering? Run into hospitals hoping to catch some horrid disease? Well, no. What it does mean though, is that we should recognize suffering as opportunity. Why don’t we volunteer more? Usually we are scared away because what might happen. The danger, the time it will take me away from work. If we understand first and foremost that this life is short and this broken world is not our home, then we suddenly see things differently. If we then look at suffering as a part of this broken reality, and use it to gain a closer relation with Christ, we begin to navigate our way through life without having to resort to societal work arounds. We begin to use suffering, the very work of the devil, to beat him spiritually.
Even if we had a perfect life, and died at 105 in our sleep, that will pale in comparison to the eternity we will spend with God. Look at this life as transitory. Look at suffering as transitory. I was taught back in my chaplaincy that we should not waste suffering. Use that time to develop your prayer life, and grow closer to God. Don’t expect instant results, except for a better relation with your Father. Look forward not to a lucrative life here, but look forward to life with God in heaven.