Why do suffering and death exist if God our Creator is Love? Why does He not prevent us from suffering?
It is and always will be a universal question. If at times we fall into bitterness, sadness, despair or even worse, have suicidal thoughts, we may need to examine our conscience and see whether we have sincerely searched for the true answers, first in the Bible and in the life of Jesus, second in the teachings of the Church and third, by questioning wise people. It is our responsibility. Christians are called by Jesus to be the salt and light of the world in today’s modern society that is dangerously drifting away from God.
We know the causes of suffering and death since they are revealed in many places in the Bible. Today, we heard St Paul say:
“Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin, death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.” (Rom.5:12)
Should we despair then? No, we should hope because he also teaches that: “If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.”(Rom.5:15)
Therefore, we need to trust what Jesus preached when he prepared his disciples for the persecutions to come: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matt.10)
Many martyrs have witnessed a strong trust in God in the midst of horrifying tortures, even teenagers like St Blandine and St Agnes. They were not afraid to face the lions and the executioners as so much of the love of Jesus crucified had filled their soul. Today many martyrs continue to witness their faith in Christ up to death. Some live the so-called “white martyrdom”; this refers to the non-bloody martyrdom of those who have consecrated their whole life to God by sacrificing careers and pleasures. Some are called by God to martyrdom, especially Christians and among them, priests like father Frans Van der Lugt, murdered in his church in Syria and Cardinal Romero shot to death during Mass.
We need to pray every day to the Holy Spirit to obtain the gift of Fortitude to strengthen our trust in Christ during times of trial.