Why is there suffering?
Recently the media has done a great job of being confused about Mother Teresa’s spiritual trials. I think the confusion revolves around the classic question “How could God allow such a good person to suffer?” and the problem of suffering itself.
Suffering is a mystery that cannot be fully understood now. But we can know something of the answer. In Lourdes I learned that God allows suffering for one reason—in order to bring a greater good out of it. Why did the loving Father allow his only Son to suffer on the Cross? The Redemption of the Universe. God allowed the worst suffering that could ever happen and brought the greatest good out of it.
That brings us to the title of this post. Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of Cross. Also known as the Triumph of the Cross. The horrible instrument of death was transformed by Christ’s death (by his death he killed death) and his subsequent resurrection into the instrument of Redemption. No longer a sign of defeat, the Cross is a sign of victory!
To follow Christ is to take up the Cross and come after him. When we suffer in any way—that’s the Cross—his Cross in our life. Our suffering then, is the opportunity to identify with Christ Crucified, to share in his Cross—to be “co-redeemers” with Christ. It’s what St Paul meant when he wrote:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church
What’s lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Our participation in them.
So our suffering conforms us to him. And we can offer our partication, our sufferings, for the good of others. And it follows that if we suffer with him we will be glorified with him (Rom. 8:28). That’s what happened to Blessed Mother Teresa.
That’s why God allows suffering. Sounds like victory to me!