I was day dreaming the other day and I wondered; what if I came face to face with a genie? You know, the one out of a bottle or an old oil lamp. And what if he gave me one wish.
Just one wish. What would it be? Happiness for myself and my family? Riches? Good health? That’s three wishes for a start; and I only have one wish to make.
As I sobered up and considered this carefully I thought I’d ask the genie to end all suffering in the world. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful? No more suffering from hunger and poverty. No more suffering from illness and old age. No more suffering from violence and bullying. No more suffering of any kind anywhere in the world. I wonder what that would be like.
Then I thought about suffering. It comes our way from time to time and stays with us for varying periods, sometimes for ever, and hurts us to varying degrees. Why, and what should we do about it?
I believe that God allows suffering to come our way for reasons best known to Himself.
But I also believe that He takes no great delight in seeing us suffer. It isn’t for Him a means by which He somehow “purifies” us from our sins, or an essential condition which we should accept gladly as a badge of honour, or some sort of sacrifice to repay Him for what He has done for us.
Let’s face it; there is NOTHING we can do which will ever repay what God did for us. And He does not, and never has, asked for repayment by means of suffering and donning sackcloth and ashes, or reciting endless prayers, or lighting candles or placing flowers in front of statues. God never asked for any such thing, and I repeat, there is NOTHING we can do to repay God for what He did for us, and for Christ's sacrifice.
In fact the New Testament is full of evidence that God is against our suffering.
Christ acted against suffering when He saw the sick and the poor, the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the lame, as well as those possessed by the devil. On every occasion He stopped suffering by healing those brought to Him. Even when suffering was the result of death itself, as for instance when His friend Lazarus died and his family were distraught; Christ acted against the suffering of death and raised Lazarus once again.
I suppose it can be said that Jesus took upon Him all the suffering of the world when He hung dying on the Cross.
And even today, Christ is fighting against suffering. For He is alive and with us now as He was after the Resurrection.
His Holy Spirit fights against suffering through the hands of many who can heal through prayers and the miracles performed in His name. His Holy Spirit is at work fighting suffering through the miracles at Lourdes and elsewhere. His Holy Spirit is fighting suffering through the miracles and intercessions of the Saints. And His Holy Spirit is fighting suffering through us; yes … you and me. Not just people in the medical professions, but every one of us is empowered to alleviate the suffering of others by what we do, or say, or by just by being there for those in need.
When suffering befalls us God does not want us to accept it as a sacrifice and suffer in silence. To do so is tantamount to saying that He wills it and delights in it and we should accept it.
God does not ask the sick man to suffer in joy and not seek any medical advice. Or not to pray for healing and to do nothing about it. God does not ask anyone to accept suffering willingly and do nothing about it.
Only Christ accepted suffering willingly and He did so for a Divine purpose to redeem us all from our sins.
That God allows our suffering is in no doubt. But I repeat, He does not delight in it and He does not wish us just to accept it without any attempt to confront it and fight it. He would wish us to act against the evil of suffering just as Christ did when He walked this earth. Jesus welcomed the sick and the dying and He had pity on them and healed them. He did not tell them to go suffer in silence, or in joy, because He was too busy preaching about God's Kingdom. He acted against suffering on every occasion and never turned anyone down.
Through prayers we act and seek help for the ending or easing of our suffering. Through the intercession of the Saints, the Archangel Rafael known as The Healer, or through the help of those blessed with the power of healing. We can and should act to ease or end our suffering whatever it may be.
Like the woman who dared to touch Christ’s garment we too should dare to ask for His help; rather than accept suffering as if it were our duty to just grin and bear it.
To suffer in silence and do nothing about it is a great disservice to the Lord as it portrays a certain lack of Faith and Trust in Him and His love and mercy.
Just like all those people who asked Christ to end their suffering we should dare to believe that God is but a prayer away and He wills the end of our suffering.
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24
The world is in turmoil right now, and there is suffering of every kind we can imagine. Indeed, we can pray to God to end all this suffering, and He will listen. But there is something else we can do also. Yes, we too, you and me, can perform our little miracles and end suffering when we see it in others.
When we see Lazarus starving at our doorstep, when we see the old neighbour needing help with the shopping or the housekeeping, when we see our colleague at work struggling under the bullying of an oppressive boss … we too can reach out our hand and help in some way to ease and end that suffering.
Maybe that is why God allows suffering to happen in the world. Not for us to accept it and suffer in silence. But to give each one of us an opportunity to help in any way we can to end or ease the suffering of others.
When I think about it, we don’t need a genie to end the suffering of the world. We have the power of that genie within us. We just don’t want to use it.
And that makes God sad.