A Short Reflection on Pain

All of us ponder why God permits suffering. By faith we acknowledge that God never permits it except that a greater good may come from it. Perhaps He permits that we suffer loss in order to bestow some new gift in its place. Even beautiful relationships may hinder some new growth that God wants to bestow. For example, the death of a loved ones creates a space for the new and different while not canceling the gifts of the one who passed.

Suffering brings sobriety by reminding us that this world is not Heaven and its joys can neither last nor ultimately satisfy.

In addition, in the crucible of suffering we are tested and our faith can be strengthened and purified.

Suffering brings wisdom, which differs from mere human knowledge or experience in that it is from God. Wisdom sees past the apparent and is as much a “sense” or “disposition” as it is a body of knowledge. There is something about wisdom, so often acquired in pain, that enables us to embrace the paradoxes and riddles of life in this perplexing world, a long way from our eternal home. In wisdom we cling to God and grow more silent; we avoid simple explanations and do not demand exact answers. It is enough that God knows and that He will reveal to us only as much as we can endure now.

Yes, suffering is painful; it is a fearsome grace of God but it is a grace.

For now, the Spirit tells me that I’ve said enough, except to indicate what drew forth this meditation: an ancient maxim, an utterance of truth from ancient Greece.

He who learns must suffer.
And even in our sleep, pain that cannot
forget falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God

– Aeschylus, c.a. 500 B.C.

2 Replies to “A Short Reflection on Pain”

  1. Msgr. Pope,

    Your message is very comforting to me today since a very dear friend of ours lost his battle with cancer today, Jan 23. He and his wife fought the good fight and leaned heavily upon their catholic faith especially during this past year of exhaustive medical treatments. At the appropriate time, I plan to share this message with her so that she may also draw comfort from it. Thank you for the wisdom and insight you provide each day, and especially for the timing of this particular message.

  2. “In wisdom we cling to God and grow more silent;
    we avoid simple explanations and do not demand exact answers…”

    Q: Msgr. Pope,
    During these occasions, as we cling to God in his “Shalom Zone,”
    how do we handle those who insist we are “depressed” or stuck in grief mode?

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