I went to confession last week at the Cathedral downtown. It is about a 10 minute walk for me. I felt fine when I headed out the door. As I started walking my back started to tighten up and started to hurt. The closer I got to the Catherdral, the more pain I felt. I stood in line for just a few minutes but it was quite uncomfortable to stand. I went to confession, sat in the pew and said pennance. As I started the walk back I realized I had no pain anymore. My parents were big on offering up suffering, big and little, to God. After I realized I had no pain I thought to myself, “it is a little late, but I offer that pain to you God”. That prompted me to muse over the source suffering. Could it be God gives us suffering to better and strenghten ourselves, or could it be from the evil one to move us to think only of ourselves when we most need to have faith and open ourselves to God’s love, or is it just natural coincidence that stem from our actions. I realized then that how we deal with all suffering, physical, emotional and mental should not be relevant upon its source. If I offer all suffering up to God and ask that He use it to make me a better person, I can not lose. If the source was from God, then I am accepting His will. If the source was evil, then what better way to turn the tables on that evil than to turn it over to God and gain from the experience. If it were from neither then I am actively asking God to step into my life for my betterment.
Sometimes our suffering is our own doing. Truly there have been times in my life when I have anguished and said “God, why are you doing this to me!”, when over time I look back and realize I put myself in the situation through some form of love only for myself. What I should have said is “why have I done this to myself! God, help me to be a better person”
The source and cause of suffering is most often not clear to me. I do know that bad things happen to good people, and that suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience. I certainly don’t pretend to know just why we suffer and I don’t like to go through it at all. If I had my way, I would eliminate suffering the world over…then again, I am a human creature and I know I don’t comprehend the bigger picture with regard to suffering. I do know from my experiences and from those of others that good can most certainly come out of suffering. It is often from painful experience that our character is shaped and defined. If we experience unpleasantness similar to another’s, we can come to have a better understanding of the other person’s behaviors and in doing so become more able to assist other people through similar situations in the future. In Sister Faustina’s Diary she once asked God why to her it seemed God placed many obstacles in front of a certain priest who was intent on carrying out God’s Will. God revealed to Sister Faustina that when we are judged, it is as much about what has to be overcome in doing an act of good as the act itself. Though an often overused statement, our lives are truly a journey. The temporal, human experience on earth is a series of events that we wander through. How we handle these events and how they affect our selves and others around us, defines us. We march through time going from one situation to the next, both good and bad. Our lives literally are a journey, our destination happens only after our death.