Is life supposed to be about suffering?

I sometimes see or hear people make comments about living the Catholic life. Our life is supposed to have a lot of hardship, suffering, etc. because God said there would be. Apparently a goal is to be a martyr because that is the end goal of suffering.

TBH I find that kind of view depressing. I’m aware God said life was going to have hardship. I wasn’t aware God said that’s all life was going to be. I’m aware God said we would sometimes suffer but scripture doesn’t teach is just about suffering. We can experience love, joy, hope, sorrow, sadness, anger, and forgiveness.

It frustrates me because I’ve experienced a lot of suffering and telling me to “read about the saints” just seems like a flippant response. There are people suffering much worse than myself…due to grief, illness, abuse, financial hardship etc. Telling them to read about the saints and then calling it a day doesn’t exactly paint a Christian example to me. How does that help people solve their problems, which may be the source of their suffering? How does that extend a helpful hand to alleviate their burden? Or even offer support? Especially when the people touting “life is about suffering” are usually people who aren’t suffering…

The question you have is a difficult one.

I believe that in we all have to go through a purification process on this earth. For some, this would mean suffering. For others, the purification would be something else. The goal is to one day get into heaven, and lead other souls by example there.

That’s the short answer-others here know much more than I do.

I have been thinkng about this since my post and maybe I can expand on this a little more.

The goal isgetting into heaven eventually, and leading other souls there is the objective. Not every saint was called to be a martyr. God gives us each our own mission to accomplish this. Some were great leaders of building the church, writers, and many other things.

Some saints were called to allieviate the sufferings of others. Some saints, were called to use their personal sufferings as expiation for the sins of others, as well as to purify themselves. When you keep the suffering in this life in context of what you can accomplish by ‘offering them up’ for other sinful souls it starts to make sense.

As with any sacrifice, God looks kindly on these suffering souls. He would never give you more than you can handle with His help, and this looks different for everyone. In order for me to understand this, I read about St. Gemma, who as you know was nailed to the cross with Christ, and suffered the passion every Thursday and Friday, and only then did I start to understand this.

It should not be depressing to know that suffering in this life clears the path for many, and is sometimes the only way to gain conversion for others. For this we should be joyful, that there are many methods to bring souls to Christ, and the saints are an example of this for me.

My grandmother used to say, “You need to have your Good Friday to get to your Easter.” I didn’t really understand what she meant when I was young, but it always stayed with me. And as I have grown, navigated some of the hardships of life, started raising my own kids, etc etc etc, it has really clicked for me. Everything that is good comes from something that is difficult. Life isn’t about suffering, per ce. It is about preparing ourselves for Heaven, and the pathway to Heaven is a narrow one that goes firmly against that which is easy, pleasurable, and acceptable by societal standards. We don’t necessarily seek out instances to suffer, but we pray “Thy will be done”. Dying unto self is a painful business sometimes. And yet, the glory of the beatific vision… it is what gives us hope. It is what reminds us that our Good Friday will bring us to Easter.

No. Life is about love. To our first parents, who lived in a state of elevated being, namely Adam and Eve, love came natural. After that fall, came the twisting of the human nature. It is so perverted that we are unable to love, in the proper sense of it. Jesus Christ came to tell us that God is love, and to show us how to love.

Love thy enemy, turn the other cheek

. This doesn’t come to our fallen nature naturally anymore. So, in order to reorder our love to that of God’s, we need to twist back in position, which is very painful. Love is an act of the will, not of feelings. We must will ourselves back into right position. Of course, we cannot do this without grace, but it requires our cooperation. The trials we undergo in this world are to accomplish exactly that. Suffering, both physical or spiritual, is the way we are purified of our imperfections, just as gold is purified in fire. The example of Christ is the best. For the salvation of the world, for the world to be reordered to the will of God, a great deal of suffering was in order. The agony and death of our Lord opened for us the gates of Heaven. To him we turn in our hour of need.
Venerable bishop Fulton Sheen said that, one of the biggest problem of the time is that a lot of suffering goes to waste.
We must unite our suffering with Christ’s sufferings, for the expiation of our sins and of others.
We fight here for the crown that never withers, which those who fight to the end will receive it. God bless!

I get what you’re getting at. There are some Catholics who seem to fixate on suffering in a weird sort of way and others who can appear quite glib when they basically respond “Offer it up” to people who are suffering.

The other posters are correct that life is about love and getting to heaven, bringing as many people with us as we can along the way. Suffering is simply the reality that we all encounter to one degree or another. It’s unavoidable.

I think sometimes, we have a difficult time knowing how to help people who are suffering through something severe and/or something we cannot relate to. It becomes easy to rely on trite little axioms that make us feel like we are helping while removing us from the awkward situation (of being face-to-face with genuine suffering) as quickly as possible. That’s because we naturally want to avoid suffering ourselves or avoid even thinking about it.

The best thing we can do for those who are suffering is to love them and walk with them. That takes time and energy on our part.

All this is not to say that many of those sayings do not have truth to them. Most of them do. It is good to read the lives of the saints. It is good to unite our sufferings to Jesus’ Cross and offer them up. But it’s usually more effective (though more difficult) to show people how to do these things rather than just tell them to do them.

Am I understanding that deprivation is the proper source of suffering? My Major Depressive Disorder doesn’t count toward my suffering? I’d much rather suffer in some other way, but depression is more than I can handle. I’ve suffer with it my entire life.

Suffering is an interesting topic. Some of it is brought on by ourselves through the choices we make. Some of it is brought on by others. And some of it seems to be randomly distributed with no rhyme or reason. The book of Job is an example of a long meditation on the issue, and certainly there have been other works, religiously based or not, throughout history on the topic.

Yes, some people seem glib in their response; in part because they don’t know how to handle the question, but also in part because mankind has struggled with this since Adam.

We can all ask the question “is this fair”? No, it does not seem “fair”, but in asking the question there seems to be an underlying presumption that “fair” is out there somewhere, and either we missed it or it has eluded us.

Suffering is part of human existence, but so is joy (and unrelated to that, happiness). And joy appears to be in part determined by perspective and attitude. The OP refers to the saints; they seem, upon examination, to be among those who have joy, and that seems to be related to their relationship to Christ.

A point, perhaps from which to do more thinking and research.

The responses I’ve received or have witnessed are “get over it” or “get over yourself.” There’s a lot of “put on your big girl panties” talk, and it’s often from people who had to suffer themselves. But at the same time, it’s like they want to forget what it was like.

I understand reading up on the lives of the saints, but if someone I know is currently suffering how can people who are already dead and in heaven help them? It seems like I just wash my hands clean when I say to read the saints or read your Bible. I’m aware not everyone can understand what people go through; that’s not my point. I think people who suffer just want to know someone else cares…and saying things like “get over yourself” or life is about suffering appears dismissive.

Suffering is inevitable here on planet earth. Rather than avoid suffering as if it we’re a sign of Gods hatred of us (as some “Christian” groups believe), Catholicism accepts and embraces it as an opportunity to grow in character, discipline, and nearness to God, without seeking it for its own sake. As for Gods ultimate intention for man, do a search in the Catechism under “happiness” or “beatitude”, which will lead to such paragraphs as:

**1718 The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:

We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.
How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

God alone satisfies.**

Suffering can help detach us from the worldly attractions that promise satisfaction but end up in dissatisfaction due to their temporary and finite nature.

“The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain”
― Padre Pio

Short answer NO just my opinion :thumbsup:

If God wanted us to suffer, he would never have sent Jesus to show us how to love one another. Most people are still learning how to do this. As for disease’s and such, not too sure about that, its not like God gave a cure for these as a result of O.S, just sin that we commit against God, ourselves and others…

So the body will suffer and die, but the spirit/soul can become one with the father, which in turn makes us stronger to accept pain/suffering/death of our bodies, rather than trying to fight against it.

:slight_smile:

Christ calls out to us for without Him the crosses of life will crush us.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I guess I was speaking more in the life circumstances context, not diseases or physical ailments. If people go through hard circumstances in life, and suffer from them, why do they get told “deal with it” or “life is about suffering”? I see this a lot with how people give out marriage advice to struggling couples.

We have different gifts. Some are good at helping others…it is a gift they have. They know what to say and how to say it. Others…mean well and try as best they can to be kind in the only way they know how.

On our birthday we receive gifts…some we like and some not so. But they were all given in the spirit of good will. Maybe that is the right way to take it…good will.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

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