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Where is God when we suffer?

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
February 27, 2021

THAT’S one of the FAQs in life – frequently asked questions many people, even among pious folks, make when they are made to suffer one way or the other. It only reveals that their faith is not yet that strong and deep, since the obvious answer is that God is right in the middle of their suffering.

Let’s remember that God is always with us through his continuing providence over all his creation. In our case, as human persons, he is with us in a most intimate way, that is, in our heart and mind, in our soul. The problem is that we often ignore him or take him for granted.

As our Catechism puts it, providence are “the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward their perfection…By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made…(n. 302)

Furthermore, the Catechism says that “the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history.” (n. 303)

In other words, God is always with us. He is constantly intervening in our life, directing us to him and showing us the way of how to live or go through the different experiences, situations and circumstances we can encounter in our life. He never abandons us. It’s rather us who can abandon him, again reprising St. Augustine’s observation that God is with us but we are not with him.

When we suffer, it’s not because God wants us to suffer. Suffering and eventually death are always a result, a consequence of sin, ours and those of the others. But God in Christ through the Holy Spirit shows us how to handle suffering. He is always with us when we suffer and assures us through Christ’s words: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33)

And St. Paul himself has assured us that the sting of death has been taken away (cfr. 1 Cor 15,55), because Christ has conquered both sin and death with his passion, death and resurrection. Thus, St. Paul teaches us that “if we have been united with him (Christ) in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6,5)

The precious lesson to learn from all this is that when we suffer, we should be guided mainly by our faith, and not just by our own human estimations. Otherwise, there is no other way but to go to the extent of questioning even the existence and love of God for us.

Yes, in this life, we can never escape from suffering and death, no matter how much we try. We just have to learn to suffer and die, the way Christ suffered and died for us, to convert our suffering and death into a way of our own salvation and a great help for the salvation of the others.

We should overcome our tendency to go through our suffering guided only by our feelings and many other natural and worldly factors. We have to learn how to be quick to suffer with Christ. That’s when we can manage to remain at peace and ever hopeful in the midst of our suffering. That’s when we can see how with God, everything will always work out for the good!

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