The Purpose of Suffering

One of the greatest challenges we face is explaining the purpose of suffering.

How many times have you heard “why does God allow us to suffer?”  It is a difficult question to answer, and one that deserves a legitimate response.

Our quick response as Christians is to tell others that it’s part of God’s bigger plan – it’s God’s will.  But was it God’s will that we lose a loved one?  Was it God’s will that we were let go from our job?  Was it God’s will that a relationship fell apart?

Obviously, trying to explain God’s will to someone in the midst of the storm may not be the perfect time to bring up the subject.  In those dark times, we may want to focus on comforting them in the healing process.

Later on, though, as their life begins to take new direction, we can begin to explain the greater good that can come out of the darkest situations.  We can help others find the purpose of suffering.

What is the purpose of suffering?

We generally look at the effects of suffering on our lives in this world.  At times, this may be plain to see.  I can personally tell you that some of my greatest blessings were planted during the roughest storms of my life.

The loss of a job may lead to a new career.  The death of one person may save the life of another through an organ transplant.  And sometimes, our only way to move forward is to leave broken relationships behind us.

While these are great outcomes from suffering, the true purpose of suffering is to align ourselves with Christ.  By aligning our suffering with Christ, we are sharing in the salvation that comes from the cross.

Jesus told us that we must pick up our crosses and follow Him.  In essence, He is telling us that we will endure our share of suffering so we can later share in our inheritance.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find promises of an easier life as a Christian.  Jesus does not promise us great riches, a perfect career, and a life free from illness.

Instead, He tells us exactly the opposite.  He warns us that we will have our share of burdens to carry.  A Christian life is a life filled with suffering, plain and simple.  Not the greatest evangelistic message, I know.

But it’s a message of hope.  Yes, you will face suffering.  Yes, you will lose loved ones, face financial crises, and have your whole world torn apart.  Being Christian will not free you from those burdens, but it will help you cope with them.  It will help you to see past the darkness to a beautiful, everlasting light.

The purpose of suffering is for us to endure the trials of this world so that we will not face them in the next.  Heaven awaits us.  We simply need to get past the obstacles that try to redirect us from our destination.

As a Christian, you will be put in the position to help others overwhelmed with burdens.  This is when you share the gift of hope.  Not the hope of false promises for a renewed life in this world, but the true hope we find in Christ.

The purpose of suffering is simple: it brings us one step closer to Christ and the salvation that awaits us.

Copyright © 2013, Chad R. Torgerson

Chad R. Torgerson

Chad R. Torgerson

Chad R. Torgerson works as an IT Analyst for a Catholic publishing group. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and sharing his faith on his website, Waking Up Catholic, a guide to the Catholic RCIA process. and is also the Co-Founder of Assisi Media, a new Catholic publishing company focused on using new media to reach everyday Catholics. His new book, Waking Up Catholic, is available in eBook and paperback formats.

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