Faith provides a response, not an answer, to the mystery of suffering. We defer our “Why?”
in trust & proceed with our “Here I am” in love.
Today, I came across a list of meanings in suffering, which I compiled over 30 years ago.
They still ring true to me today. See this list in the comment, below.
Do these meanings ring true for you? Are there any sufferings from the past for which you
might even be thankful today?
While, at bottom, suffering remains a great mystery, there are some meanings that can be
realized through suffering.
Through suffering, many have better recognized their finitude and therefore reached out to
the Infinite, Whom they may have otherwise ignored!
Many have used suffering as an unambiguous sign of an indubitable love. For who can doubt
the depth or the character of our love when we persist in our love and commitments even
in the midst of great pain?
While the winds of suffering can extinguish the flickering flame of an unpracticed faith, at
the same time, they can fan the flames of a steadfast faith into a raging inferno of an all
consuming fire of love!
The manner in which we choose to confront our suffering can reveal to us our own capacity
for endurance, can teach us of that Spirit breathed within these fragile but resilient human
vessels and can thus even affirm our self esteem!
We can minister those consolations that we have received to others in need of comfort,
giving them hope that they, too, may eventually realize the same healings that we have
received for the same - often seemingly incurable - pain and sorrow!
Suffering allows us to enter into the Paschal mystery of continuous death and rebirth in all
matters of our earthly existence and, having thus discerned this paschal rhythm in our lives,
we are no longer scandalized by the Cross, neither His nor ours, and thus the theodicy
problem becomes the theodicy mystery!
Suffering teaches compassion and empathy and reinforces human solidarity!
Suffering can reinforce our eternal perspective as we realize that what we suffer at the
present time can not even be measured on the same scales with the weight of that eternal
glory yet to be revealed to us! Suffering can remind us that, while we now have an earthly
tent in which to dwell, we will one day be clothed in a robe of resplendent glory, for what
no eye has seen , no ear heard, nor the heart of wo/man even conceived ... such are things
prepared for those who love the Lord!
Suffering through love is one manner in which we can attain sainthood and thus can be
redemptive, both for those of us who suffer and for those who observe us in our suffering,
for again, in the manner in we choose to confront our suffering we can either squander the
opportunity or we can be a prophetic witness, both revealing the purpose of our existence
and the fitting and proper orientation of gratitude by the creature toward the Creator!
Even with all this, suffering is not the only route to faith and God, not the only path to
compassion or self esteem or solidarity, not the only language of love, not the only way to
gain eternal perspective or attain sainthood. It thus remains an unfathomable mystery,
which we cannot fully comprehend but can only partly apprehend. Just like love :)
~john sylvest 1977