The Trinity is an eternal process of the three Persons giving Themselves over to one another in an exchange of Love.
Suffering teaches us how to love.
When we act for others out of love, we are going to suffer. When we voluntarily suffer–when we perform penances and self-mortifications–we condition ourselves to suffer. We pray that we can take upon ourselves the sufferng that others are undergoing.
This physically and spiritually conditions us to be more self-sacrficiing. When we undergo illnesses and harship in our lives, and we learn to accept these trials, we learn to be more selfless. Again, the main reason we see these things as “problems” is that we are sinful and self-centered. Enduring these trials teaches us humility.
THen, when it comes to actualy giving of ourselves in love to others–whether in marriage, religious life, the priesthood, charitable works, our careers, etc.–we will be more giving and more generous because we are willing to accept the suffering that comes from being generous.
Too many people go around thinking that Christianity is somehow supposed to be about “happiness,” that, “If you just believe in Jesus, He’ll take away all your problems.”
You can read all the encyclicals and apologetics you want to, but it ain’t gonna solve the real issue.
A good novel or poem will do a lot better for you than a theological treatise (I recommend C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, and just about anything by T. S. Eliot).
If you really want to understand suffering, study the lives and spirituality of the Saints.
Pray the Stations of the Cross without the cop-out “fifteenth station”. Pray the fifteen prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden.
Read The Story of a Soul and Fatima: In Lucia’s Own Words.
Practice the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
And, most of all, do it . Start practicing fasting and self-mortification. When you’re stuck in traffic, instead of cussing people out, offer it up.
When you break a dish, offer it up.
I once said to my father, “Dad, when I golf, I pray, then I swing. When you golf, you do just the opposite.”
When you swing at your metaphorical golf ball and miss, don’t swear; stop and think about how maybe you didn’t take your action virtuously or prayerfully enough, and ask God’s forgiveness.
“Do small things with great love.”
This will teach you about suffering.