Why is there Suffering?

If God is good, why is there suffering?
Every person, at some time in their life, will find themselves confronted by suffering either personally or in their immediate surroundings. It seems to be the end. Everything collapses And the question springs up: Why? and above all, Why me? What did I do wrong? This is the moment of devastation or revolt in which we may decide to turn away from God. 

This is a completely human and normal reaction, because man is not made for suffering. But while it disrupts the comfort of our life and wounds our heart, at the same time, suffering reveals the inner thirst for happiness that is present in every person. Ultimately, suffering touches the most profound mystery of our being, reminding us of the good for which we were created (happiness) and of which we are deprived. It manifests itself as a lack of something. 

At first, we are not able to accept suffering, because, in itself, it is intolerable. It makes us afraid and we reject it, because we were made for life. At the same time, in dealing with suffering, we are drawn beyond the fear of it, to a kind of respect and, most profoundly, into compassion. However, despite all that we can do concretely, we remain powerless. This is because suffering, either my own or that of another, touches the mystery which is part of myself, and which, at the same time, is far beyond me: the mystery of humanity and the mystery of evil with its roots sunk deep into history and into the human soul 

So, finally, it is to God, as the Creator and Lord of the world, that we turn with our question about suffering. And there is a great temptation to believe God is the author of evil. «If God was good, he would not permit it, he wouldn't act in this way...» This is actually what has happened since original sin (see Q31). God himself has not changed. It is we who have changed. 

But maybe we have something to discover from the One who saved us from evil: «Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.»( Matt. 11:28) This is one of the sayings of Jesus Christ, of whom the Scripture says: «He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows» (Isaiah 53:4). He who was put to death unjustly so that «by his wounds we are healed» (Isaiah 53:5). 

What do we learn from Jesus' life and what is said about him in the Gospel? It is not a God of justice who comes to us, but a humble God, «a suffering servant», who comes to totally embrace the human condition with its suffering in order to console us and help us to bear our own suffering. 

«God did not come to eliminate suffering, he did not come to explain it, but he came to fill it with his presence,» says Paul Claudel. And He reached the depths of suffering. 

Christ goes even further: he offers his suffering to save us, and for all those we love thereby opening up a way of life. And he invites us to learn from him. Like the 18-year-old diabetic girl: «Jesus loves us and doesn't allow us to endure a suffering that is too heavy. He has confidence in us and he allows us to share in his mission which is to restore the whole world to the Father. It is a joy to participate in such a mission when God is the director!

Personal Experience

For a number of months, I was assailed with anxieties: doubt, guilt, discouragement I tried to resist them with small acts of faith, but I had to do so repeatedly and my difficulties persisted. One day while praying, I complained to God about my anxieties - when all of a sudden I had the thought «instead of moaning and turning into myself because of this, I'd do better by working for the salvation of souls, in offering my difficulties to God with this intention!»

It was so simple, I only had to try it. I did and it was very effective. Every time a doubt or a feeling of guilt surfaced, I simply said: «Lord, I offer this guilt, this doubt for the salvation of souls» and, almost instantly, the guilt, the doubt disappeared.

Inspired by this experience, I have tried for some time to apply the same remedy to other temptations or to sadness and humiliations which arise. And the result has been the same! Generally, I hardly have a chance to say: «Lord, I offer you this temptation or this humiliation I feel for the salvation of souls» when immediately I feel an inner liberation, like a breath of fresh air.


Rather than saying I offer you my suffering, I don't say anything, I unite myself with him, I unite myself with Christ's offering of love on the Cross. It is love that he offered, not suffering. (This expression is not very positive) because "to offer his suffering" can only mean one thing in Christian language: to transform suffering into love, to turn a cry of mourning into a cry of love, to make out of a whole life of suffering, a life of love.

It is love that we offer him. When suffering comes, in whatever form, and above all, in the form of mortal anguish, I have nothing else to say when I look at the Cross than this : I want to be united with you, I know that you love me, I know that you have not abandoned me, help me to endure my affliction with confidence. 

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