Why does the question sometimes rise up in our hearts, “Is God punishing me?” There’s probably a pretty good chance it has to do with our suffering. Whenever we experience pain, we instinctively look for the reason for our suffering, so that we can do something to remedy the situation.
So when we look for it, what do we find is the source of our suffering? Well, it can either result from things that we didn’t choose—things that are out of our hands—or from own poor choices.
Sin is such a shattering reality because it is a choice to act in a way that is devastating to our human nature. The consequences of sin are not so much “imposed” by God from the outside, as they are written in the nature of our failing to act in accord with the truth. For example, if I gorge myself on cheesecake and wind up with a stomach-ache, it’s a natural consequence of abusing that which is meant to be received as a gift and has certain built-in rules to using the gift.
As for suffering that is not the result of our own sins, Jesus speaks very clearly on this point in his words in the Gospels, but most importantly by his actions. Sin really did cause an abyss between the infinitely good and loving Creator and his creatures who wanted to be like gods but without God. All of Salvation History is a preparation for the salvific work of Jesus making reparation to divine justice by taking on the price of our sin. And that’s why St. Paul and so many other saints could say that they rejoiced in their sufferings; because it is a receiving of something that—while it may not be a direct result of our own personal sin we nevertheless know that our personal sins have probably not all been atoned for—such that we can become one with Jesus in his perfect offering of love and sacrifice.
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4 Ways to Take This Offline:
- Read Psalm 13. David cried out to God through this psalm. Use his words to do the same. Bring your distress to God.
- Think of a person, a people, or a situation that needs God’s healing. Offer up your suffering for them.
- Thank God today for your suffering and praise Him, because He is using it to bring you closer to Himself. You have been given a glimpse of the suffering Jesus went through.
- Reach out to someone who you know has been going through a trial — maybe a death or an illness, maybe loneliness or some other difficulty — be a friend to them today.