There’s no escape from suffering. No matter how little or how much you’ve suffered, you probably wonder how to overcome it. The Church and the world offer different answers.
For those without faith, suffering lacks spiritual meaning. They see constant, pain-free pleasure as the ultimate value of life.
Catholics don’t want to suffer, but we accept it as a necessary reality in this vale of tears. That’s why we need to learn how to suffer well.
Here are a few tips.
1. Realize that there is good suffering and bad suffering
You recognize the existence of good and bad suffering by asking, “How do I suffer well?”
You can’t escape suffering, but you get to decide how to face it. “Good suffering” means trusting God and offering your pain to Him as an act of love and as penance for your sins and the sins of others.
“Bad suffering” means letting your pain destroy your faith and hope in God and capitulating to despair.
The choice is yours: Will you use your inevitable suffering to grow in holiness or waste it and perish?
2. Recognize that God allows suffering to enter your life
God originally created the human race to live in pure joy without the admixture of pain and suffering. He doesn’t want you to suffer and doesn’t directly will it.
But He allows evil and suffering in order to bring about a greater good that often only He can see. He lets you suffer because He loves you and knows that this pain will help you grow.
But this greater good only comes about if you trust Him and say, “Your will be done.” It’s tough, but it’s the only way back to peace. If pleasure is your ultimate goal, you’ll only find more pain in the end.
3. You need faith to fully make sense of suffering
Reason alone is incapable of solving the mystery of suffering. That’s why many atheists struggle with the Catholic idea of redemptive suffering.
In a moment of darkness, reason often buckles under the weight of pain. If you’ve lost a spouse or child, then you know that logic doesn’t help much.
You need faith and you need to nourish that faith with the sacraments.
These three tips will not magically cure suffering. You will still suffer. But Jesus is always there, ready to help.
After all, He carried a cross heavier than any of us could bear, so rest assured that He can handle your crosses.