Why would a loving God allow you to suffer and face heartache? Perhaps you’ve felt abandoned by God, and you wonder why God won’t take your suffering away.
In this clip from “The Inner Life,” a caller named Judy asks about the concept of suffering. She mentions that her daughter, who is a Christian but not Catholic, believes that God does not want people to suffer and that He wants them to be healed. Judy is looking for an explanation of the Catholic concept of “redemptive suffering.”
Fr. John Paul Erickson responds by affirming Judy’s daughter’s perspective that God does not desire people to suffer. However, he explains that suffering is a part of the human condition in a fallen world due to the broken nature of humanity and the world itself.
Fr. Erickson emphasizes that God, being all-powerful, could prevent suffering but chooses to allow it. He suggests that God enters into the places of suffering and brings His divine presence to them. Fr. Erickson also mentions that suffering can make individuals more compassionate, loving, and patient. He highlights that redemptive suffering involves offering up one’s suffering for others and as reparation for sin.
Fr. Erickson concludes by referencing the book of Genesis, where it’s mentioned that Eve will experience birthing pains as a consequence of the fall. He interprets this as a symbol of the reality that in a fallen world, to bring forth something good and lasting, one must be willing to endure suffering and challenges. Fr. Erickson suggests that redemptive suffering is a way to reconcile the existence of suffering with the belief in an all-powerful and all-loving God.
You can check out the full hour here!