Tuesday, January 11, 2005

On Suffering

I've just found out that one of my high-school friends had a batchmate who died in the recent tidal wave disaster in Asia. May her soul find peace in God's beatific vision. I promised myself that I won't post about the tsunami, because it already has so much coverage from the blogosphere and I thought I'd just be redundant. But I changed my mind. Here's what I have to say about the matter.

Just a few days ago, I read about someone who, apparently moved by the horrific loss of so many lives, asked the question: "How could God let this happen?" I understand the pain of such people. I know how difficult it is to think that a God of love and mercy would let so much suffering exist. I remember reading about Someone who felt this pain, too. Nailed to a piece of wood in front of a mocking crowd, blood dripping from every inch of his body, this Someone uttered the words:

My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?


Of course, Jesus was not really doubting God. He was quoting the very first verse of the 22nd chapter of the Book of Psalms, and that chapter actually glorifies God. The lesson here is that through the cross, God showed us that self-sacrifice has a sanctifying effect. Suffering can save souls. This does not mean, of course, that suffering is inherently good, or that God likes suffering. Many kinds of suffering are effects of evil, and it is our Christian duty to help lessen such suffering in the world. What this only means is that our God is so great that He can create good out of evil, and that He allows us to participate in His own sacrifice by letting us offer our own pain for the salvation of sinners.

We must also remember, and this is something that many people tend to forget, that this world is not our home. The fact that God took so many people's lives does not mean anything except that so many people have finally gone to where they truly belong. Feeling sad for the victims of the tsunami is not bad, of course, because it only shows our compassion. But in our sadness we could always find comfort in the hope that our loved-ones are already experiencing eternal bliss. That heavenly hope ought to make us happy...at least, eventually.