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ON SUFFERING


 


THE ROLE OF SUFFERING

God had decreed that all must suffer. Since suffering is necessary for salvation and God wants everyone to be saved, therefore, God sees to it that everyone has an opportunity for suffering. 

What makes suffering distasteful is the grief that accompanies it. But grief accompanies  only those who suffer for the wrong reasons or suffer wrongly. Those who suffer for Christ experience no grief; yes, they still suffer, but joyfully. So, though all men are destined to suffer, it is up to each of us whether we suffer miserably like those who are not seeking God or without grief like those who seek God. Thus when Abraham went about to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, he suffered greatly; but there was no grief. And so he went about the sacrifice seemingly without emotions because of the absence of grief; but this did not mean he loved Isaac less. 

God sends suffering for the same ultimate end, the sanctification of the person, but for different immediate purposes. He sends suffering to sinners to tell them that they are ungrateful for all the things they have received from God; this is, sort of, an invitation to repent, with the veiled threat that if he does not repent worse suffering will befall him.

God sends suffering to those who seek Him to help them grow further in virtues and to remind them of their past sins, even confessed and forgiven sins. Thus, St. Peter, though a great saint and greatly privileged by Christ, was always conscious of his betrayal and St. Paul of his being a persecutor of the Church.

As decreed by God, due to the fall of Adam and Eve, this world is a vale of tears and man is destined to suffer. And suffering is like a storm dashing a ship. If the captain is inexperienced, suffering will break his spirit. If he is proficient, he will bring the ship safely to harbor. 

Sufferings are meant to be tests. If the ship sinks, it is not the storm's fault but the captain's inexperience. If the captain is experienced he will surely guide the ship to safety. 

We must know how to suffer; we must suffer like Christ. If we suffer like Christ, we shall surely resurrect with Christ. 

St. Basil the Great

 



(09-11-02)

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