Why do we suffer?

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE quick and short answer to that question is because we are not with God, from whom all good things come. We prefer to be on our own, even to make ourselves our own God. Of course, separated from God, from whom, to repeat, all good things come, the only thing that can happen to us is to suffer.

Not only do we suffer, but we neither cannot help but also die, which is a consequence of our sin, a contradiction to what being with God, who is life eternal, would entitle us. With God, we can only have joy, bliss and everything that is good. Without him, we can only have the opposite.

Suffering is not intended for us in the beginning, nor in the end, in our final state of life in heaven. But we brought suffering to ourselves by disobeying God, by daring to separate ourselves from God. That’s why, we suffer now. We cannot avoid it anymore.

Remember that our first parents, still in the state of original justice, did not know any suffering or pain. They were meant to be immortal, to enjoy what is known as impassibility (the capacity not to suffer any pain, even tiredness) and integrity, the state of being in harmony with their own selves and with everything else.

But all that was lost because they disobeyed God’s commandment to them and preferred to do their own will. They preferred to separate themselves from God, thinking that they can be their own God. That was the seemingly irresistible temptation the devil, the father of all lies, hoisted on them.

But in spite of all that, God continues to love us. He is such a father to us that even our sins and our stupidities would make him love us some more. This he did by sending his Son to us to save us. Let’s try to imagine what all this divine endeavor would involve.

The Son had to become man to tackle the whole problem of our sinfulness that unavoidably leads us to suffering and eventually to death. We can just imagine the kind of “suffering” God had to undergo to save us!

In the words of St. Paul, the Son of God emptied himself to become man, and he emptied himself further by suffering death for our sake, and death on the cross. Let us try to go through his passion and death to have a good idea of what Christ our redeemer had to undergo to save us.

The suffering and death of Christ which was the price, the ransom for our redemption, is the paradigm we have to follow to heal ourselves of our strong tendency to be by own selves alone, daring to separate ourselves from God. Christ has converted suffering and death into a means to our salvation.

This time, our suffering as long as it is united to the suffering of Christ, becomes the cure that heals us of our fundamental infirmity to separate ourselves from God. Our suffering now can have a redemptive value. It is something that we should welcome and even look for. Without suffering, we cannot help but stay away from God.

That is why not only do we suffer now, which is unavoidable, but we also have to suffer, to look for it, because only through suffering can we be reconciled with God, from whom we come and to whom we belong in a most intimate way since God wants us to be his image and likeness, to be children of his.

We need to readjust our understanding of suffering to conform it to how Christ wants our suffering to be. Every suffering we experience in this life should be an invitation to “deny ourselves,” to empty ourselves, so we can be with God, and in fact, be “another Christ,” who is the pattern of our humanity, the savior of our damaged humanity.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com