Can suffering be God's will for us?

I recently received my Parish quarterly paper and the RCIA director wrote an article about “The Dark Nights of the Soul”. I don’t know him very well but this article labels him a New Ager. At the end of the article he references the great Christian Psychologist Carl Jung which gave him away.

Anyways, in this article he talks about suffering and how suffering isn’t God’s will for us. I have put an excerpt of his article of suffering and would like to know if this is theologically correct with the teachings of the church.

“There are some great misunderstandings when it comes to the dark nights and our relationship to God that needs clarification. Some of the great misunderstandings, that border on heresy, are that “suffering is good for the soul” or “no pain, no gain” or that suffering is God’s will. What the great mystics have tried to help us understand is that suffering is not some form of “divine purgation” designed for the spiritually elite, but instead, suffering arises from the simple circumstances of life itself. Sometimes human suffering is dramatic and horrifying, but more often than not, it is ordinary, humble and quite. But neither way is it “God’s will”. God does not intend us to suffer, but is instead with us in all experiences of life, in both suffering and joy. And that divine presence is always inviting us toward greater freedom and love.”

I feel that sometimes God does will suffering to people to bring about a greater good not that we may be in pain but to bring us closer to him.

I am correct in feeling his explanation of suffering is not in union with Church teaching?

God Bless :slight_smile:

Dear Jennie,

There certainly seems to be no lack of Christians these days who preach a “feel good” gospel that sidesteps the cross. But it won’t wash. Jesus is quite adamant about the necessity of suffering. In St. Matthew (16:24) we read: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.” We see this in Mt. 10:38, Mk 3:34, Lk 14:27, !7:33 and Jn 12:25.

We are committed to One who has clearly conveyed to us that love is measured by sacrifice. He who was without sin showed His love for us by suffering and dying on a cross. And we, who ARE with sin, expect to have an easy time of it? He has shown us that the worst thing that can happen to us is NOT suffering, but SIN! I’ll just bet that your RCIA director doesn’t talk much about sin either. The human race has to deal with suffering because of Adam’s fall. Jesus paid the price for that fall by suffering. We participate in such suffering as well. Anyone who denies this is not being faithful to what the Gospel teaches.

Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone could read St. John of the CROSS and deny the necessity of suffering. St. John is quite explicit about the necessity of the process of purgation that the dark night of the soul actually is! (See:

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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