By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE CANNOT deny that in our life we will always have some good times and some bad times. We just have to make sure that the good times are really good and the bad times are really bad, because it can happen that what we consider to be good times are actually bad for us, and what we consider to be bad times are actually good for us.
The secret in knowing what are truly good times and bad times is to refer them always to God who gives us the ultimate standard of what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. Without him, we would be out on a limb, exposing ourselves to the possibility of creating a merely subjective understanding of things that has nothing to do with the objective reality. We can be living in a fantasy world, in a bubble.
We know, of course, that with God, everything will work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28) He can derive good even from evil. He can write straight with crooked lines. We should never detach ourselves from him, since he is actually everything to us. It is only with him that we can properly handle all the predicaments, problems, difficulties and trials in our life.
But for all that, we cannot deny that there truly are bad times that will make us suffer greatly. God’s goodness and his wise, all-powerful providence do not exempt us from these painful bad times which actually are caused by our sins.
But he has shown us, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, how to deal with them such that these bad times can lead us to him instead of away from him. He has shown us how to derive good from the evil of the bad times.
And again, the secret is to look at the example of Christ, the way, the truth and the life for us. He suffered all the consequences of our sins that are the main cause of our suffering here on earth. And in so doing, he is showing us how to deal with all the negative things in our life. With Christ all the pain and suffering that we will experience in this life will be converted into expressions of love for God and for others. There can be no better bargain than this!
Thus, to be realistic in this life, we should not be naïve as to think that there will come a time here in this life when we can be freed from all suffering and pain. We have to expect them always. They are an unavoidable part of our earthly life. We should just prepare ourselves for them, knowing exactly what to do.
It might be a good idea to make it a habit to regularly meditate on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, since it is from there where we can derive the precious lessons and insights of how suffering can be considered good, or how the cross of Christ which he asks us to carry can lead us to our resurrection and victory with him.
It might be good to remit here some words of St. Paul in his second letter to Corinthians that well describe what actually happens when we are with Christ as we go through our sufferings here on earth. (4,7ff)
“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,” he said, referring to the great gift God has given us. And he continued: “so that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body…”