Suffering is a problem. Many became atheists after the Holocaust of 5.5 million Jews and 5.5 million Christians. It is estimated that 90 percent of the Jewish population became atheists.
Suffering is the solution. Jordan Aumann in "Spiritual Theology," page 172, beginning with the scripture, "unless you take up your cross and follow Me, you can have no part of Me" comes to the conclusion, "Suffering configures us with Christ in a perfect manner; and sanctity does not consist in anything else but configuration with Christ."
God has created us to dwell with Him and in Him. The three Persons of the Trinity are the best of friends. Friendship implies three things: 1, to know the other person, or faith; 2, once we know their goodness, we hope we can be with them and that they will want to be with us; and 3, we are together in love. Genesis tells us God created all persons very good so that this friendship would be possible. The Book of Wisdom tells us that God did not create death, but created all things to be alive. Everything that God does is for the purpose of friendship.
God created persons "in His image." He created angels and human beings in His image precisely so that we could share His life with Him. That meant that He created human beings with an intellect and will (spiritual things) and a brain and passions (earthly things) so that we could know, hope and choose to be with Him (love). The intellect and brain are for knowing. The will and passions are for hoping and loving. He created angels with only an intellect and will.
From this it follows that we are "like gods" because we are created in His image. Knowledge is power. Choice is power. Because we are created like gods we have a lot of power. Power that can undo God's creation and His plan of friendship. Adam and Eve changed love into lust and thus they covered themselves. In the very next generation Cain killed Abel. Satan, Adam and Eve in their power took God's all good creation apart. By their choices they brought suffering into the world. We do the same.
God in His almighty power, wisdom and love uses our evil choices that bring suffering and death and returns His creation back to it's original purpose. Our loving Father draws out our salvation from the very destruction of the humanness of Jesus. Jesus takes upon Himself our death. And when He dies, our death dies with His death. Provided we chose to allow our death to die with the death of Jesus. St. Paul says we are baptized into the death of Jesus. He also suffers in our place the justice due to our sin. We suffer with Him in reparation for the injustice of our sins. In a world taken apart by evil choices He is putting His Father's created world and plan back into order using our destructive choices.
St. Paul tells us that our sufferings make up for what "is lacking in the suffering of Christ." There is nothing lacking in the perfect offering of Jesus to the Father. What is lacking is our share as His friends in His suffering. Parents know what this is. Healthy parents many times suffer more than their sick child does because love has united them to their child and they feel with their child. Isaiah describes Jesus as the "suffering Messiah." If we wish to come as close as possible to Him than we must suffer with Him. Suffering configures us with Christ. We too with Christ are putting our Father's creation back in good order by suffering.
Acceptance of our daily duties as spouse, parent, child, student, employee or manager is absolutely necessary. Not doing our duties because of inconvenience or difficulty is refusing to suffer with Jesus. The crosses that our loving Father sends us directly or permits to befall us sanctify us if we know how to accept them with love. Appropriate pleasures are good. But the choice to suffer intimately with Jesus leads us to turn more toward suffering with Him than to desire pleasure.
Can we decide once and for all to embrace suffering as God wishes to send it to us: sickness, persecution, calumny, humiliation and disappointment? Do we choose to be like Job in order to see Him face to face? It is a sign of total abandonment to God without reserve. "Into Your hands I commend My Spirit." It is a complete subjection to God's loving providence so that He may do with our soul as He wishes to draw His family into His dwelling.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.