The Suffering of Life's Trials
by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
Your doctor informs you that you have Cancer. Your wife tells you she has been seeing
another man. Your husband tells you he’s found a younger woman and is going to marry her. You son announces that he has
AIDS. Your employer tells you that your job as been Outsourced and your services will no longer be
needed. Any number of events can bring your life crashing down. People of Faith do not
necessarily have Trouble Free and Painless lives, and People with little or no Faith at all can be
found living Wonderful, Prosperous, and Problem Free lives, or so it seems on the surface. Life’s Blows
come to us all no matter what things may seem like on the surface.
What happens within our Hearts and Souls when we
find ourselves in the midst of Life’s Storms?
When I was younger my first questions in the face of Loss and
Pain were: “Why me?” “Why is God punishing me?” If
God is so Good, why does He
allow such things to happen to Good People, to the Innocent and Undeserving? Well-intentioned people
might tell you that God is Testing you. But we should question
that. Why would God need to Test us,
He already knows what is deep within our Hearts and Souls?
It is Life that Tests us. More specifically it is the
Consequences of Human Decisions that sometimes come Crashing Down upon us.
Chaos, we must remember, isn’t necessarily the product of Hurricanes, Tornados, or other Disasters of
Nature. And while it is true that we find Chaos in our Universe and in our World, the
Chaos that Troubles and Tests us
the most comes from the Decisions of other People.
Some of us react by trying to Get-Even with those whose Decisions have caused us Pain
and Sorrow. Essentially this involves using Evil to overcome
Evil. That approach doesn’t work. Using Evil to overcome
Evil only multiplies Evil by
Two (2); it doesn’t divide it in Half
Other folks allow themselves to live in a State of Victimhood. Too many people have
spent their entire lives living in Passive-Aggressive Victimhood. That approach does not work either.
It does nothing to Confront and Overcome the Evil Intentions and Decisions of those who have
Hurt us and caused us Loss and
Eventually we will come to realize that we have little control over others and are virtually powerless over them. But
that does not mean we are powerless over our own lives. We have the power to control our responses to others who have brought
Chaos into our lives. In Jesus Christ,
God has given us the Power to Confront and Face-Down Evil.
God created us to know
Him, love Him, and serve
Him. But to know, love, and
serve God in Meaningful Ways we must Freely Choose to do so. Can
you imagine being Loved by someone who was programmed like a computer to
Love you? It wouldn’t be Love at all, would it. So it is with
God. He wants to be Loved only by those who
Freely Choose to Love Him. But the Consequence is that
He must Suffer the Rejection of those who Freely Choose to
Reject Him. God has
Suffered the Consequences of
Evil Human Choices. He Suffered them in the Life of
Jesus Christ here on Earth. In Christ,
God has faced all that we must face when Life Tests us with its
Evil One, the Devil, is known in the Bible as the
Great Tempter. When Jesus began His
Public Ministry, He was Tempted out in the Desert by the
Devil. And Satan Tempts us
too, only with different Temptations. In life’s Storms and
Troubles he Tempts us First
with Disappointment. Disappointment leads to
Doubt. Doubt leads to Disillusionment, followed thereafter
by Depression, Defeat, Despair, and
eventually Spiritual Death. Satan’s “
Sacraments” are Disappointment, Doubt,
Disillusionment, Depression, Defeat,
Despair and Spiritual Death.
Fear plays a big role in all of this. Notice how many times
Jesus said to His Disciples: “Fear not”,
“Be not afraid”, “Peace be with you”. In the New Testament the
opposite of Faith is not Questioning, it is Fear. And
Fear leads to Doubt and all of those other
“D” words I just mentioned that the Devil uses
to Defeat us.
We often think of Strength in terms of Power and Control. We are Tempted to think that
if we can Overpower others, we can Control them. We think this makes us secure. Actually it only makes us feel like we are secure when in fact
we are not. Security is found elsewhere. Security is not found in Power and Control over others. Our World’s greatest
leaders have demonstrated that to us.
It is Love that makes us Secure. Without it we are Terribly
Insecure. And Love brings with it Faith. If you have
Faith in someone, you can Love him or her. If you
Love someone, you have Faith in him or her. It is when we are in
the presence of Christ that we are Truly Secure.
Out there in that storm-tossed boat we just heard about in today’s Gospel, Jesus was
teaching His Disciples about where to find Peace and
Security. They would have it so long as Jesus was at-their-side.
That is the
Lesson we, too, need to learn. That is the Truth that we need to see. God Himself is coming to us in
His Son Jesus Christ. God, with all of
His Powers, is with us when the Forces of Chaos descend upon us.
He knows what we face because in Jesus Christ He, too, faced them and continues to face
them in us.
So when Life deals you its Cruelties, its Blows,
and your Life seems to be collapsing all around you, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that God
is Punishing you, or Testing you, or that
He doesn’t care about you. He may be a lot closer to you than you think. You may even come to
realize that He’s in the Same Boat with you. It is only in the Power of
Faith and in the presence of Christ that we overcome all of Life’s