The mention of suffering triggers resistance in the minds of many Catholics. Everybody wants comfort. More so, when you have adhered to all the church requirements, expectations become high. The only problem lies in waiting.
The church teaches that you have to carry your cross.
What is your cross?
Why does God keep you in limbo?
People around you look unperturbed!
What are they doing that you aren’t doing?
I trust you are not lazing around and expecting manna from heaven. You must be working tirelessly but receiving unsatisfactory fruits in return.
If you have done everything within your means and are not experiencing any breakthrough, I have an answer for you.
First of all, you’ll be better off if you understand the two types of suffering.
When you are going through the consequences of your sins, you will suffer justly. It is, however, not easy to accept the repercussions of your sins.
Once you have repented, you feel God has forgiven you. You might not escape the results of your sins. The effects of sins can make you think God hasn’t forgiven you. I’ll explain this using an example later on in this article.
Another word for unjust suffering is testing. When God is challenging your faith, you are likely to experience moments of sorrow to the extent of wanting to despair.
Why specifically you?
God intends to use you to glorify His name. How you handle the consequences of your sins (just suffering) determines if God will give you another job.
Remember, we are on this earth to serve the Lord, yet it is for our good.
After successfully persevering through the testing period, God gives you another responsibility!
Let’s leave it at that for now and pierce through the two subjects profoundly.
How to know you are Bearing the Consequences of Your Sins
It is somehow related to just suffering. Many Catholics get confused and wait hopelessly. It happens when they focus on wants rather than needs. With the emphasis on getting rich, you will never see the little things God does every day.
In the spirit of complaining, you end up suffering the consequences of your sins much longer. God can instantly relieve you of the consequences of your sins. He can as well keep you in the wilderness for a longer time. It is all dependent on your behavior during that time. Ask yourself these questions.
Have you embraced the virtue of patience?
Are you blaming God for being too slow on you?
Let’s use the sin of stealing as an example.
The Penalties of Stealing from Your Employer
Assuming you were the financial controller of a company. You embezzled some funds, managed to get away with it, and even got another job. Your kill was good enough to give you a home and your dream car. You secured some peace of mind for your family as the common saying. “If you have a place to call home and a means of transport, you are good to go.”
Within less than a year, you felt you made a grievous mistake and confessed. The guilt died off. After all, it was a secret!
Sadly, external auditors discovered your mess and tabled the investigation.
Your former employer sued you. Attending the court case became part of your life every month for close to four years. Your new employer discovered you had a court case with your former employer and opted to lay you off.
As the case nears the end, the court rules. You are guilty. The time within which the court expects you to pay back the money is too short. Auctioneers bundle up your property.
You are back to the drawing board. No house; no car; no job!
Call it a triple tragedy!
“Did God forgive me?”
It is at this point that you may not be able to distinguish between suffering and the consequences of your sin.
Forgiveness does not mean favor at the expense of the other person. Your former employer is God’s child too. It’s only fair that Caesar gets back what belongs to him!
You aren’t suffering. You’re only experiencing the consequences of your sin.
How Your Children Suffer the Consequences of your Sins
When you rose ranks, you transferred your children to better schools. It came with a cost implication. Your status changed the standard of your family. It’s hard to accept that you have to come down a few steps to live within your current means. The hospitals and places you go to for recreation also changed.
When life naturally fluctuates, it does not bite as much as when your mistake causes it.
As the little savings dwindle, it becomes strenuous to pay a domestic worker. You are likely to double up as a job hunter and housekeeper.
Have you ever wondered why serious Catholics appear to be suffering compared to the rest?
Now you have the answer.
People who have moved closer to God pass through the refinery furnace. The more you knowingly sin while suffering the consequences of another sin, the longer your stay in the wilderness. It does not mean you will suffer forever. God has not forgotten you.
It’s important to identify your type of suffering. You learn how to go about it and live in peace despite the challenges.
Why you should not Live in the Past
Yesterday is gone. Live in the present as a little baby.
If Moses looked at the past, he wouldn’t get the Israelites to the Promised Land. Imagine his commitment and how he suffered to accomplish God’s mission! Worse off, the Israelites kept blaming him for their suffering. Wasn’t he also facing the hard times with them?
God knew the new king of Egypt wasn’t going to free the Israelites that easily. Each time, God sent Moses to him with a different strategy. Moses never tried doing what had already failed. Moses sang praises to the Lord when they were finally off the hands of the Egyptians forever (Exodus 15: 1-21).
You remember I said earlier, your stay in the desert is purely dependent on you! Avoid asking God questions about the past. Focus on what is ahead of you, lest you fall into a deep pit again.
Signs that Suffering is Part of a Catholic’s life
Spiritual growth is God’s main aim when He keeps you waiting. These Bible verses will help you accept your situation without complaining.
Jeremiah 29:11 – I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
Psalm 119:67 – Before you punished me, I used to go wrong, but now I obey your word.
Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
Psalm 56:8 – You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book?
John 16:33 – I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”
Romans 5:3 – We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope.
Acts 5:41 – As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.
Hebrews 5:8 – But even though he was God’s Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient.
2 Corinthians 4:17 – And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.
I hope these verses answer your questions about suffering.
Benefits of Unjust Suffering
The one person who suffered unjustly is Jesus. He is the best example I can use to explain this point. Irrespective of His obedience, God tested Him. Immediately after His forty days of fasting, God allowed the devil to test His obedience. Jesus won.
After that, He qualified for the next challenge that you know too well. He went through His painful passion and death to bring salvation.
Ask yourself this question.
If Jesus, suffered, who am I not to suffer?
Grambling disqualifies you from getting the next blessing God has lined up for you.
How to Know that you are Gracefully Carrying Your Cross
Even if you were to live for two hundred years, you’d still suffer. That said, these are some of the characteristics you need to embrace. Lacking any of them only reminds you that you need to make an effort to stabilize in this torturous world. Persevering unjust suffering invites more of Jesus. When He is present, the sky is the limit.
- No matter how much pain you are going through, it never shakes your prayer life.
- You carry your homemaker title with dignity. Blaming your husband or children for mistakes is not part of you. You know the secret. Every mistake becomes a prayer point.
- You handle any problems without raising your voice.
- Many women say they got tired of praying for their husbands. That’s not you. You can’t afford to disappoint the God who made you a homemaker.
- There are no expenditure boundaries in your family. When you have money, and your husband doesn’t, you joyfully take up his responsibilities.
- You live one day at a time. You’re tirelessly working towards the future, but you’re not too worried about it. What God gives you is just fine for that day.
- You’re a leader. Your husband and children follow in the right footsteps. If they happen to fall, you help them rise.
I would endlessly list down these points. Have a second glance at them. What is the one word that describes all of them? HUMILITY!
God has forgiven you. Accept to suffer the consequences of your sins. Zip your lips and carry your cross with self-respect. Do not expect suffering to end. Learn to live with it and trust God is walking you through it. What lies ahead is invisible, but it is the best gift for you.