Making “Sense” of Suffering

On Suffering
On Suffering
On Suffering

A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a 2-year-old girl who died tragically in a drowning accident.  The funeral was heart-wrenching, particularly when the priest – wiping away tears that he couldn’t manage to stop – said to the family, “I am not about to stand here and give you a reason why this tragedy happened, because anything I could say to you would be so shallow compared to the grief you are experiencing right now.”

“But,” he went on, “I will offer you words of truth.”

Thus I begin this reflection on the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, echoing Father’s words.  I am not going to try to make “sense” of this suffering, but I will offer some words of truth.

Suffering is the lack of something good.  Therefore, God did not create suffering.  So how is suffering able to exist at all?  Because of free will: God has given us a wonderful gift, and He wants us to always choose the good, but, sadly, we often choose the bad.  In this case, someone chose evil.  At the time I’m writing this, four innocent people are dead as a result – including an 8-year-old boy who made his first communion less than a year ago – and many more are injured, maimed or even missing limbs.  There has been much suffering, and there probably will be much more to come.

But we know that God uses all things – including suffering – for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  What good will come from this?  At this point, your guess is as good as mine, but I am praying it.

Pope Benedict said in Spe Salve, “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola once wrote, “True, I am in love with suffering, but I do not know if I deserve the honor.”

My prayer for the people of Boston (and West, Texas) – especially for the families of those who have been killed or injured – is that they embrace this suffering and unite it to the cross.  We don’t have to understand why it has happened, and we don’t have to enjoy the “honor” of our sufferings, but we do have to trust that God, who suffered greatly on our behalf and continues to suffer along with us today, will use it for our greater good.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Anna Mitchell is the news director and anchor for the “Son Rise Morning Show” on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.

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By Anna Mitchell

Anna Mitchell is the news director and anchor for the “Son Rise Morning Show” on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. As a reporter, she has covered the controversial commencement at Notre Dame that honored President Barack Obama, the 2010 Pallium Mass in Rome and the first-ever National Theology of the Body Congress. She is a contributor to the “Today’s Catholics – Young Adults” section for the Integrated Catholic Life. Anna’s favorite hobby is collecting old books to add to her bookshelves in her trendy downtown apartment in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with degrees in Journalism and History. She loves reading, writing, playing guitar, and watching Reds baseball, Ohio State football and Project Runway. Anna is learning Italian so she can live in Rome someday, and is also very active in the St. Gertrude 20s Group in Cincinnati.