How can I love God when he allows us to suffer?

It is so ingrained in me that suffering is bad that I cannot get past the fact that God allows us to suffer. It doesn’t help to think that Jesus suffered. I have been brought up in a society where to let others suffer is evil and wrong and I can’t think of God as good when so much suffering exists. Yes Jesus suffered for 1 day and tremendous good came from his suffering but some poor people here suffer for years or their whole lives and when I think of that I have a very hard time with it. I have prayed and prayed to be able to understand this but I can’t. Can anyone help?

Dear Gabarielle,

Well let’s do some more ingraining. Ever think of what it would be like to not exist? I don’t mean be an absolute nobody and I don’t even mean being a zero, but just….nothing. It’s absolutely impossible to do, of course, because to imagine not existing requires our existence to imagine it! Our existence is such a basic thing that we rarely give it much thought. Happily for us, God gives it lot of thought or our lights would be knocked out big time! Our existence is not something we deserve. We don’t have it coming to us. No one paid Him to give it to us. We could very easily be nothing, you and I.

When you and I love something, we perceive it as good and then love it. It’s just the opposite with God. When God loves something it automatically becomes loveable. When He loves, He doesn’t respond to a good outside Himself, because there are no goods outside of Him. Whatever exists, He has created and loves it. It becomes good by that fact. So when He freely chose to create us, He actually loved us into existence.

Keeping this in mind, reflect now on the fact that He chose to give us the freedom to love Him or….to turn on Him—even as He continues to give us existence. This is what our first parents did. Thus we have the original sin.
So great was this affront to God that only He could make up for it. And thus we have Him choosing to become one of His own creatures to make up for such an outrageous act. These puny creatures from nothing have had the gall to be ungrateful.

In becoming human in the Person of His Son, God repairs the breach that only God can. Even if Jesus had suffered for only two minutes, such suffering would dwarf all the human suffering that has ever been—when one considers just…who….God…is! This is called perspective. And it tells us that we are very small potatoes and that if God wills that we suffer to any degree, then it is for our own good—even if we don’t understand it now. His love is unlimited. And our very existence is reason to trust Him, not to mention the passion of His son. We are loved!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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