The Problem of Suffering

Life involves suffering as well as happiness and joy.  Human suffering is not willed by God. However, the gift of free will means choices for good or bad are possible. Much suffering is caused by the misuse of free will, selfishness and sin. Some suffering can lead to good outcomes such as personal growth, compassion and love, depending on how human beings respond. God, revealed in Jesus Christ, is always profoundly present with those who suffer, whether this presence is felt or not.

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“With God on our side, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“You should carry each other’s troubles...” (Galatians 6:2)

“Through your faith God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time.  This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold - only it is more precious than gold... (1 Peter 1:5-7)

“I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory,
as yet unrevealed which is waiting for us.”  (Romans 8:18)

“We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with those who love him.”   (Romans 8:27-28)

“This has taught us love - that he gave up his life for us;
and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters...
My children , our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active,
only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth.” (1 John 3:16-19)

“Then taking the twelve aside he said to them,
‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem,
...the Son of Man … will be handed over.. and put to death...
and on the third day he will rise again.”  (Luke 18:31-33)

“Men will seize you and persecute you;
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment,
and bring you before kings and governors because of my name –
and that will be your opportunity to bear witness...
Your endurance will win you your lives.”   (Luke 21:12-19)

"Peace I give to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

"Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened,
and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Yes my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me." (John 14:1)

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(Paragraph numbers for the Catechism are shown - Click the Nos section to view)

Suffering No 164
Jesus’ suffering No 572
God’s compassion No 270
Christ’s compassion Nos 1503, 1506, 1508, 2448, 2571, 2575, 2715
Illness and Suffering No 1500
Jesus’ response to illness No 1503-1505, 1506, 1521-1522

Items of Interest

Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

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