How Does My Suffering on Earth Affect My Eternal Destiny?

Have you ever experience an inconvenience, a struggle, or suffering and been told to offer it up? As Catholics we know that we can offer our sufferings to the Lord, and in doing so participate in the sufferings of Jesus. In doing so, we become more and more deeply conformed to Jesus Himself. But does God take that into account in our final judgment?

A listener named Joanie called in to The Patrick Madrid Show and asked a similar question, saying, “I have been focused during my Catholic life on offering up my physical sufferings and various trials that I have faced. So, is it upon my death that God will take into consideration my sufferings to influence His decision about my eternal destiny?”

“Well, not exactly,” Patrick said. “Let’s put it this way. That is where you will find out all the good that you have done, and all the bad that you have done, too. St. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, where he says, ‘The man who built his house on the foundation of Jesus Christ…’ And in this case a woman, you, on the day of the particular judgment all of it is revealed.”

Patrick explained that at the end of one’s life all will be revealed. We will see both the good and the bad that we did on earth, seeing through the perspective of the Lord the actions of our life.

Referring the the writing of St. Paul, Patrick explained, “He says there that the gold , the silver, and the precious stones (in other words those good works that were done in grace) those remain. And yet the flammable things, that he likens to wood, hay, and straw. The bad works, he says, those are burned up.”

“So, by offering up your sufferings to the Lord, little inconveniences or big problems whatever they are, your almsgiving, the ways in which you helped other people, all those things are going to be revealed to you. As well as, of course, all the sins.”

So does that mean that by doing good works and offering up our sufferings here on earth we can store up treasure in heaven to essentially “pay off” our sins? That so long as the good outweighs the bad we are all set? Patrick explained that is not the case. That while through these acts of love we can become more fully conformed to Christ, in the end they alone do not determine our final judgment.

“What decides whether or not you, or anyone else, will go to heaven is if you die in the state of grace,” he explained. “You may have led the most wicked, horrible life, and if by the end of your life you have a sincere repentance and true contrition … then you go to heaven. That is the deciding factor.”

“Now, the converse is true,” he continued. “If you die in the state of mortal sin, which is intentional rebellion against God, an obstinate unwillingness to receive His grace and obstinate unwillingness to repent of sin, and you die in that state you go to hell. And everything will be revealed on that General Judgment.”

Please join us in praying for Joanie, for all who suffer in this life, and for those in a state of grace to persevere to the end and be ever more perfectly conformed to Christ. Let us also pray for all those in a state of mortal sin, that they may experience repentance and the grace of Our Lord so they may experience union with Him forever in heaven.

Listen to the full conversation with Joanie below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.