Today I am going to write about a subject I usually keep to myself – Pain and Suffering. Not the pain and suffering of others or even of the world in general, but my own.
I am not sure I have talked about it here before, maybe a long time ago, but I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago, I even wrote a book about it (you can find it on Amazon here). I believe I also suffer from arthritis. I say believe because I have never been officially diagnosed with it, only that I have some. However since it runs in my family, I am pretty sure I do have it.
Lately I have been feeling worse than normal. I have been dealing with a lot more pain than usual as well as some other, new issues, including intestinal and stomach issues, and fogginess. Whether these are related to the fibromyalgia getting worse or something else I have yet to determine (appointment with Rheumatologist coming soon). But this post isn’t about that, rather it is about whether or not God makes us suffer for some reason, maybe because of our sins. As I tend to do, my mind begins thinking about all these things. This was one of those things I spent many hours thinking about. I will also discuss the concept of offering up our pain to help others heal. Here is a warning: I am pretty sure this post is going to get pretty deep and wander around some.
Does God Make us Suffer?
At one time or another we have all thought God has made us suffer for one reason or another. Maybe there has been a tragic death of a child in the family, maybe you or a loved has been diagnosed with cancer, or maybe it is as simple as you have lost you job. One of your immediate reactions, well maybe not so immediate, but sooner or later is to blame God. You put it on Him. You think He is punishing you because of one or more sins in the past, or maybe because he just doesn’t like you. I used to think that. Even when you read one of my favorite bible passages, the same one at the top pf this blog, it almost seems this is what we are being told.
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition, 1 Co 10:13). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Doesn’t this sound like God will first try you and then stop trying you when He knows you can’t take any more? On the surface it does but when you look deeper into other places in scripture you realize this is not the case.
No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one.New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition, Jas 1:13). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Bad News: God doesn’t Tempt us
God will not tempt us, He will not cause us to sin, He just won’t let us be tried more than we can handle, I am proof of this. God has given us free will. This is a result of original sin, and we can choose either good or evil. If the Evil One tempts us we have the choice to either resist or not resist. This doesn’t address whether God is punishing us for our sins however.
The short answer is “No”! God is a loving God. He does not want us to suffer, He does not want us in pain. He created Adam and Eve and they were to live in happiness forever without any pain or suffering, without a care in the world. But then there was the whole forbidden fruit thing and paradise was taken away. God wanted us to live in peace and harmony but this was taken away. But there is good news, now we may suffer here on earth, but God gives us the chance to live with Him in Heaven after our death here on earth (the whole living with the end in mind thing).
I know, this still doesn’t really answer the question does it? It actually makes it sound like we are responsible for our pain and suffering. In some cases we might be, I am sure my arthritis pain is mostly to do with not taking care of myself when I was younger. But I certainly would not hold myself, or anyone else being responsible for someone dying of cancer.
Blame it on the Apple
Could Adam and Eve’s falling from grace have somehow have caused cancer through sin? (I told you this was going to be kind of deep.) What causes death from sexually transmitted diseases? If it originated through illicit sex, isn’t this a sin and are we not responsible for our own sins? As I said above it is out choice to decide to commit sin, we can pick between good and evil. Did someone at one point in history choose to add nicotine to cigarettes to cause people to become addicted so they would buy them? Did we not choose to smoke that first cigarette? It wasn’t God who placed all those toxins in our air, water and ground. Nope, that is on us. I guess if we want to blame God for throwing Adam and Eve out of Heaven therefore causing all this sin, we can. But I wouldn’t.
The Good News: There is Hope
The good news is God did send His Son to earth to die on the cross and suffer for us so we can have a chance to live in eternity with him in Heaven, aka Paradise. We can begin to make the choice to choose good or choose evil. We can make the choices leading us to help us enter through those pearly gates. We can choose to “Live with the End in Mind”. We can even begin this today, right now. It isn’t too late.
So have I answered my own question or made it worse? After all the next question most of us are going to ask is “Why does God allow suffering?” This is a tough one, and I can see another post coming. Maybe I can answer it then, or maybe not, but I’ll try.