Suffering

Hi. I’ve been studying alot of apologetics stuff lately to help me render a decision about God. I understand most of the arguments regarding some suffering and the whys of allowing evil to exist. But a major sticking point (I wouldn’t say obstacle) is why there is suffering. Namely in the form of cancers, diseases, but more specifically the Tsuanmi. WHY do these things happen. How does a good God seem to allow indiscriminate suffering, to the otherwise “innocent”.

To my small human mind it just doesn’t seem right. I don’t know. Can anyone help me to come to some understanding I can live with?
Thank you.

This is a great question that you might pose to Fr. Vincent Serpa in the AAA forum to get the best possible answer. There are also some good books out there on suffering. I’d answer, but I’m unsure that I’d make more sense than you can come up with on your own. I have an answer in my life, but it would be really hard to put into words

regarding the Tsunami, there are a few threads on that topic in the “in the news” forum.

peace.

It has been said that all suffering brings about a better good. And if you don’t believe that, just look at our Crucified Lord. Who was more innocent than Jesus himself; and look how he suffered. Out of that suffering came our salvation.

Of course, we don’t forget that Mary, His innocent Mother, also suffered as she watched her Son die on that Cross. Thanks be to God.

All suffering give us an opportunity to come closer to God.

Greetings! I think the “Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis might be of help. I think “Miracles” by him may also help as he includes a chapter or two on “nature”.

From personal experience, I can maybe add a little. I can’t say that I suffered like the people from the Tsunami. However, my family has a hereditary predisposition to various forms of mental illness. I have endogenuous depression. That means that I feel pretty awful at times for no reason. It’s just brain chemistry. It’s not something i can really help (there are things, including my own actions that can lessen it, but i can’t make it go away). So in a sense, I’m suffering innocently (I’m not innocent, I’m a sinner, but I mean that I didn’t do any particular thing to get depression, since i basically have had it all my life).

I would argue (though I could be way off) that because of the fall, human beings, being contigent beings, were cut off in such a way from God that disease and other such things could enter the picture (I think in the scriptures Jesus also points to the devil as being the author of disease, though I’m not sure if he means some or all). So my illness in part arises from the human condition of being turned away from God.

The thing is, God has really used that to help me. I am often too proud and judgemental and then I have a fit of depression and I am reminded that I should be more humble and loving towards others. My wife even said that it was my depression which helped “win her” because of how God has used it to help me to overcome various faults. Of course I’m far from perfect. My point is that God has taken a rather nasty thing in my case and brought good from it.

rmw82 raises a wonderful point. I would also add that killing the son of God was the worst thing in history. Yet, God, brougt love, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life from it. So God can take the worst thing and bring good.

It may not be the exact same thing, but if you can get ahold of “The Bells of Nagasaki” by Takashi Nagai, that book could also help. Nagai, a convert to Catholicism from atheism was a professor at the Nagasaki medical college when the atomic bomb fell. It exploded almost directly over the Cathedral there, killing thousands, including Nagai’s wife. Many Catholics were troubled, believing that God was punishing them and some even though there family members who had died in that blast were in hell! Nagai noted that Japan surrendured on August 15th (Mary’s Assumption) and he drew two pictures, one of Mary going to heaven on a cloud and one of his wife floating to heaven on a MUSHROOM cloud! He argued that those killed in the blast were a sacrifice to show the horrors of war and to end war, and far from being in hell, he believed that they had been taken into heaven. It was their innocence, similar to the innocence of Christ, that made them such an offering. On one side, this is a very harsh way to look at things, but on the other, from my own experience, I have found that my own little suffering have been of some help, and were I worthy (which I am not) to be taken in such a way, I would be willing to (with God’s grace).

I hope this is of some help! God bless!
peace in Christ,
Frank

i definitely second the recommendation on ‘the problem of pain’ by cs lewis. one of the best books on the subject for a nonphilosophy major.

apolonio.blogspot.com/2004/10/on-natural-disasters-natural-disasters.html

Suffering is what “IT” is all about. You have to take the good with the bad and you can not have the Good without the bad.

Why do good things happen? Why do CHildren get pupies? Why does man advance to computers, mass transportation and medicine.

God himself is not above suffering. Life is short and full of woes. A more pertinent question is why isnt there more suffering with 6 billion people in the world?

Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses. I’m somewhat encouraged to see other people that have gave a second thought to these things. I always thought the biggest obstacle to faith for me was that I have too many questions. I figured that I must not believe if I can’t get past “X”. I always thought the people in the pews must “have it all figured out”, and envied them, and (not openly)mocked them before I turned away altogether.

Your answers seem to be based more in the intangibles, this is somewhat encouraging, since there probably isn’t an explanation that could totally satisfy folks. So out of horror comes light? Maybe…or are those affected then supposed to turn to God because they have nothing else? Maybe the waves are still resonating around the world today causing people the world over to become more introspective. Was God punishing those in the sex trade? We’ll never know in this lifetime I guess. “Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis is definitely on my reading list. And great point rmw82.

It’s important to not that God mostly *allows * suffering rather that causing it. That being said, aside from the direct sinful actions of men and the activity of the demons, what does cause suffering?

Part of the answer is that we live in a fallen world. When our first parents fell, creation fell with it. Nature as we know it, with it’s disasters, diseases, death and decay were not God’s plan from the beginning. When man fell, nature fell as well. St. Paul tells us that nature is groaning in travail along with us as it awaits the revealing of the new heaven and earth when salvation history is complete and Jesus comes again:

*"[If we are] children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

Romans 8:17-23*

The good news is that at the end of time there will be a new heaven and a new earth:

*"1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; 3 and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21: 1 - 27*

[quote=Shamrock]I thought the people in the pews must “have it all figured out”, and envied them, and (not openly)mocked them before I turned away altogether.
[/quote]

Don’t ever feel that way; even the most informed Catholics always have more to learn. We are all just beggars showing another beggar where to find some food.

You think you are the only person to suffer but Amen I say to you. The pews are full of people who cannot see past their own suffering. The saint in the pew is called forth, to examine Jesus own pain and suffering, his mothers suffering and the suffering of Billions of people through out the world, day in and day out. SOme people leed quiet lives of desporation.

The man who suffers, suffers for the Glory of God, for God created suffering, evil and Good. God is good and he does not want us to suffer. He wants us to ask him to lighten our yolk when it becomes to heavy. Which one among you, when asked for water would provide red hot fries?

Knock and the door shall be opened.
Ask and yeah shall receive.
What ever you ask the Lord in Jesus Name he will give it to you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.