From the Pastor’s desk— May 14, 2023
One of the biggest challenges to Christianity is, “If God is all good, why does He permit suffering?” There is no one simple answer to this question, but today in the First letter of Peter, we get a part of that answer when the author says, “For it is better to suffer for doing good…than for doing evil…
for Christ also suffered for sins once, that he might lead you to God.”
In summary, in the divine plan, suffering has the ability to lead us to God.
One might say that is still a cruel God except for the fact that Christ suffered as well, even when He didn’t have to suffer. How often in life do we take consolation that we are not the only ones who have suffered or feel relieved when you connect with someone who has suffered in a similar way that you have or that someone else has a strange experience like you have had and you find yourself saying, “I was beginning to think I was the only crazy one.”
Suffering shared is suffering lessened, suffering shared is suffering relieved. If we keep this in mind, we can understand what Jesus meant when He said, “take my yoke upon you…for my burden is light.” As I have shared in homilies, our burden is light because the Father carries it for us, but for this relief we must first turn it over to Him, just as Jesus said in the garden of Gethsemane, “Father, not mine, but your will be done.”
On some level this sounds easy, but this is where most of the challenge of suffering lies, to turn things over to God. It is against our American nature to not be in control. It is against our culture to be humble; we are taught to be #1. We do not esteem people of faith as much as we do celebrities in sports, music, or film/tv. Over 4 billion people watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, easily more than double that of Pope John Paul II.
Still, this is our challenge if we want peace-we need to find a way to turn our cares over to Him. It starts in little ways, like not judging. We are told to leave judging to the Father, to let Him take care of others in His way, in His time. If we can trust that His way will be better than our way, we can reduce our suffering and worrying. It can also be if we turn over our sufferings to the God before we go to bed, as worrying never solved anything, and we probably will sleep better.
And so it is, even suffering can lead us to God, either in turning to Him for strength, for healing, to carry our load, or to handle judgment of others. Keep doing good, keep telling the truth, it will always bring us closer to God.
With a heart for Mission,