It’s Not What You’d Think

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(As a quick foreword I would like to quickly explain two terms so this article makes sense to all. It was first published in a seminary newsletter. A seminary is a place where future priests are trained. A seminarian is a man becoming a future priest. This reflection is written about a bunch of seminarians living in community.)

         We’re all either half-dead or rowdy. You cannot find any in between. If you come to a seminary looking for a collection of saints who shuffle silently down dimly lit hallways keeping their thoughts eternally towards the blessed things of heaven, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you come searching for a group men who are secretly hoping that lunch will break out into a food fight, suddenly the dart flies closer to its mark!

         Many of my brothers will cringe at this explanation of the average seminarian, and that is because it’s false. Truly, every great explanation falls short of its mark. I would not be lying however, if I told you that I have spent more time looking for my own possessions hidden in my own room than riding a wave of celestial bliss.

         The fact is I could not be more happy to see such a building of miscreants and trouble makers, for they will be the future of the Church, God’s Church. Truthfully, when I gaze at them, I see the apostles. The impetuous, the zealous (and not always in the good way), the crazy, the tired, the confused and my heart swells with appreciation. It seems like it could have been just yesterday that Jesus was yelling, “Get behind me satan!” to some absent minded seminarian.

         You may be inclined at this point to address the fact that I excluded one of my initial extremes: the half-dead. Seeing as how I detest zombie references in any form, please do not mistake me here. Seminaries house introverts just as much as extroverts and this one-sided article exists because I happen to end up most often in the “too much energy” category. They too are a necessary foundation of Church life.

         It would seem that their mission in life is to atone for all the impatience and brashness of the rowdies, but I know that this isn’t exactly true either. These sleep-walkers bring an essential element of calmness, order, or just perhaps someone who knows how to use the brakes on the car. Even though, they often get the short straw. It’s Peter in all his faults that steals the highlight reel of the Gospel, much as it is in life in general. It is true that the kid who bashes the pot lid the loudest get the quickest scolding from mom, but that doesn’t mean all them other munchkins aren’t deserving of her attention!

         How should a good Catholic like myself get away with praising extremes? Fact is I won’t. Virtue still lies in the middle way, and I don’t care who gets blisters getting there, that’s where we’re headed. God put us together in this great factory of holy men so that the wily could prod the lazy, and the quiet could shush the obnoxious. Each man here suffers a fatal flaw, or two, or three. Likewise, I have seen beauty in the actions of these men that surpasses any I have ever seen to date. I could not be more proud, disappointed, excited, and just plain fed up with this process. It shows me my faults, it brings me in need to prayer before our blessed Lord. What better place could there be for a bunch of sinners?

         This seminary is not full of saints. Thank God! It’s full of real men who struggle for something that is greater, who strive to know God’s will. If that isn’t what we’re doing I hope someone or something gives us a good wallop in the chin and knocks some sense to where it belongs. Self proclaimed saints don’t exist except in fantasy. Apostles, screw-ups, strugglers, they were the leaders of the Church, they are the leaders of the Church, and they will be the leaders of the Church.

God bless em’ all!

God in Nature, God in Church

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Few experiences beat the serenity and peace found in a long hike up a mountain. There is just something incredible about being physically disconnected from all the bustle, noise, stress, and on-goings of city life. The crisp air, the sounds of nature, the fresh smells. Something here speaks to a very fundamental place in humanity.
 

I reflect on this reality often when I am confronted with a common denunciation of organized religion: nature is my church, I go there to worship God.
 

It is true that the prophets were often drawn to the wilderness, to the high places. Christ Himself often sought refuge in the stillness of secluded and isolated locations in the desert and elsewhere. Still, I have to ask myself, can nature replace Church?
 

I see two helpful roads for this discussion. The first being what really lies at the heart of this argument (or more accurately at the heart of its supporters), and the second addressing what we have to gain by worshiping in common.
 

I hit a wall very quickly when I try to see the reason in this refusal of Sunday worship: since when was it an either or equation?
 

Plenty of my fellow Christians love the outdoors and go there often. At the same time, they share a devoted passion for liturgy and communal worship. The idea of “worshiping in nature,” really has nothing to do with nature at all, but a distaste for what happens in a Church.
 

Often I get the impression that what these folks mean by “worship” is something rather similar to enjoy. To enjoy something is for the individual only, and not for God. To worship God is to give all reverence and glory to Him who created it, and that is an external action. It requires effort and acknowledgment.
 

The heart of the matter simply remains that if we really wish to worship God, then we worship Him according to the means He provided for our own good. The emphasis is not on where and how I want to worship, but precisely upon God’s preference and desire.
 

This is to love God.
 

I am sure there are many causes for this hesitancy or out-right refusal to worship in community.
 

One perhaps being a general mistrust of others. This may either be a unhindered distaste for humankind in general stemming from past wounds and rejections, or perhaps just an inability to express something intimate, my relationship with God, in the presence of the community.
 

Another reason could be associated with the anxiety of being seen in a place of worship, the fear of being associated with “them,” the church going types. Being a believer is increasingly becoming a counter-cultural act, and a rather unpopular one at that.
 

In any case, the mentality that I can go it on my own, without the fraternal aid and support of the community is folly, and if left unchecked, it leads to spiritual ruin. For no person is wise enough to travel the long and arduous path to God alone. There are simply too many pitfalls, traps, and snares which await the sincere believer.
 

We need each other.
 

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In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis articulates the idea very well: “God can show Himself as He really is only to real men. And that means not simply to men who are individually good, but to men who are united together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band, or organs in one body.”
 

The second downfall of the notion of worshiping in nature exclusively is the immense loss of missing out on communal worship.
 

Anyone who has played in a well practiced and unified band knows that this experience can be nearly mystical. The combined and harmonized efforts of the group creates a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. From this experience is created incredible music.
 

It is also true for worship, and the fruits of communal worship is truly mystical.
 

As Lewis points out, not only is communal worship better, it is also exactly what we were created for. In the Catholic tradition, even the most secluded hermit prays in communion with all the faithful using prayers which match exactly those of the faithful worldwide. In addition, they attend if at all possible a communal Sunday worship with their brothers or sisters.
 

They understand always that they leave the world specifically to be united to it, and to pray for it, with a greater fervency and intensity.
 

My point being that they are never separate, or on their own.
 

This is never the feeling I get from those who follow the idea of worship in nature.
 

They most often strike me as those lacking the energy and spirit of charity towards neighbour. They are often the types to be judgmental of all the failings of church leaders or those who attend, while not seeing their own.
 

A priest once told me of an exchange he had with a man on the street who said to him, “Why would I go to church, it’s full of hypocrites!” He immediately replied, “Yup, and we’ve got room for one more.”
 

It is true that every church community has its wounds, its errors, its failings. After all a church community is a family. Should we expect anything different from a family?
 

If it is not the communal aspect of church, the other which can often turn people off, especially since the social upheaval of the sixties, is the structure and order of the Church. The dogmas, the rules, the hierarchy, etc.
 

C.S. Lewis recalls an experience where he was giving a talk on theology and “an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all this stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’”
 

Lewis continues to explain that this man had a good point. That to go from this real experience to the dogmas was akin to “turning from something real to something less real.” Like going from a view of the ocean itself, to a map. “Turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper.”
 

However, he finishes by making the point that the map, though not as real, contains thousands of combined experiences coming from thousands of different people. That this map, which is not the thing itself, does tell us how to navigate the dangerous ocean safely.
 

“The doctrines are not God.” They are, however, a guide to reach our destination safely.
 

He drives his point home: “You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion—all about feeling God in nature, and so on—is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work…”
 

Without the work to which Lewis refers, we also fail to obtain the fruits: supernatural charity, love, and perseverance in all kinds of difficulties and evils.
 

We need each other, we need the map.
 

In the end we work to accomplish here what we hope to discover in heaven. Heaven is a community of persons, of love. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t work to accomplish that goal right here and now.

Take Courage

 

Whoever denies their need for the mercy of God, denies the very air they seek to breathe.

 

Even beyond this the question is absolutely outside the realm of what we need, though we do need it! It should be known that any who understands the mercy of God desires it more than the air they breathe.

 

The perfect mother but only shadowed the tenderness which awaits the repentant heart. He tells us, “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” The caring affection of a grandmother is like a small stream compared to the vast flowing currents contained in the oceans of God’s care for His children.

 

Our everyday experience of hatred, darkness, betrayal, ignorance, disgust, and apathy are constant pointers in the opposite direction. If these evils assails us, there must be their opposite to relieve.

 

Sadly, many despair of the hope this world can give and relinquish themselves to this darkness which poisons.

 

For many it seems easier to hold on to a lie, than to face the pain of changing, admitting fault.

 

Resist the wholesale apathy which the world sells today. It is a lie and a detestable one. One which claims that human beings are not worth more than their subjective experience of pleasure. One which claims that our hearts are nothing more than the beating of flesh and blood, and certainly not a sign of the life-force which is pumped into us from the divine source, from our divine Father.

 

Take courage.NmnKzKIyQsyGIkFjiNsb_20140717_212636-3

 

The darkness is weak, it will always flee before the light. Darkness can never consume light where it resides. With that said, it is ours to invite the light, to embrace it.

 

Have you ever had the experience of finally overcoming ego and pride to forgive one who may not even have deserved forgiveness? Did you feel the lightheartedness, the release, the peace which followed such an action? For one who forgives, there is no wound that can overwhelm.

 

No amount of destruction could outmatch one pure act of love, sprouting from the plenitude of God’s mercy. Not even death can overcome love. For we look everyday to the saints who died, who were murdered in often times brutal forms, with forgiveness being the last gift released from their pure hearts. Still they hold us in loving concern.

 

They forgive their executioners.

The agents of their death. They do this because they know the plenitude of God’s love for which they willingly take up this sacrifice.

 

If it is abundance you seek, then you need God’s mercy. If you seek security, God is the only totally trustworthy being in the universe. If it is affluence you seek, I cannot even begin to describe the splendour of the heavenly riches given to us through a small act of compassion!

 

To claim that we can have compassion without God, is no different than to claim that we can have life without oxygen. All the while taking in its sustenance, even to claim those very words. This is but another example of God’s compassion who gives his gifts even to those who reject Him.

 

What must a person do to find this love, this mercy, this fatherly care?

 

To say nothing more than: “Papa, I’m here. I’ve missed you.”

The Blindness in Online Communication

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Despite my earnest efforts not to do so, I often find that while communicating via e-mail or by comments on social media, I often go too far in what I say.
 

In retrospect I find that when I communicate via-keyboard I am far more willing to cross lines which I would never cross in person.
 

Most people are keenly aware of how anonymity online allows people to say and do truly horrendous things. If I look at myself, I can see that I do not have the same awareness considering my own postings and writings.
 

While it is true that I don’t go out looking to troll or to harass people who disagree with me, I do not spam hate mail or vicious comments, I do lose a true awareness of how what I write effects others.
 

When we are messaging someone we are familiar with, we know the anonymity is gone, even still, the absence of seeing a human being with facial expressions, mannerisms, and the like, seems to disengage an important part of our internal radar and filter.
 

I have noticed that I tend to argue far more bluntly online, than in person.
 

I am far less cautious with my words, which is the exact opposite of what should be the case.
 

If we think about it, when communicating online we should be all the more careful with what we say because we have none of the other important indicators of how the other person is feeling, or what they are experiencing.
 

We cannot tell if someone is near tears by the text of their response; we cannot tell if they are furious but bottling it up; we cannot see the subtle but important cues that inform us that “this is too much, please stop!”
 

It is well known that a large percentage of our communication occurs entirely non-verbally. Aside from the choice of vocabulary, all these vital tells are missing. In written correspondence we only obtain the physical words, the message coming from the other, but not the unspoken and often more valuable information.
 

This is all too apparent when trying to use something like sarcasm in text messages, and the person receiving the text only reads a blunt statement, and does not get the humour.
 

In comparison to when I am with someone face to face, when I am reacting in writing I tend to focus whole heartedly on the ideas of their comment. I go after these ideas with great intensity, but quickly forget that their will be a loved one with an entirely different emotional and spiritual life than mine at the other end.
 

Ironically, this forgetfulness makes our arguments less effective because we end up offending instead of endearing. We turn the other onto the defensive, and thus closed to our point or ideas.
 

When we speak harsh words in person we see immediately how they change. Their facial expressions, their demeanor, their willingness to engage in more conversation are all important indications of how our message is taking effect.
 

These are powerful reminders that our words carry a visceral potential to either harm or to uplift: reminders which are often missing during online conversations.
 

Online communication has brought about an age of unprecedented connection.
 

What is interesting is we seldom consider the consequences of this intensified connection.
 

We are influencing each other with a far greater frequency than before.
 

It seems to me that it is all the more important now days to be aware of the shortcomings of this burgeoning type of communication so as to use it all the more effectively.
 

At the end of the day, communication should not be just a means to obtain what I want, what I need, what I desire, but also to fulfill the desires, preferences, and needs of those we communicate with.

Perennial Philosophy: Are All Religions Guiding us to the Same Destination?

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Some ideas sound great but don’t work in reality.
 

Wouldn’t it be great if all religions pointed towards the same truth?
 

Is it possible, taking all religions in existence today as they are now, that this statement could be taken as true?
 

I find the idea hard to reconcile, if not impossible.
 

One man likened all the different religions in the world to a group of blind men all feeling a different part of the same elephant and describing these parts accurately, therefore far differently, despite the fact that they all had the same underlying source.
 

It sounds a bit like the great unifying theory which Einstein sought after: to put these seemingly incongruous parts into a neat and unified whole.
 

The fundamental flaw of the elephant argument is this: the existence of an elephant ear does not negate the existence of the tail.
 

Likewise the existence of the tail does not negate the existence of the trunk, and so on. Each blind man could describe his part of the elephant without denying the existence of the others.
 

Religions claims are not like this.
 

Their ideologies are, in the fullest sense of the word, contradictory.
 

One claims there is only one God and that no others exist, while some religions claim the existence of multiple gods.
 

Many religions claim that to follow anything different is to cause one’s damnation, and others state that we need not worry about death for every time we will come back for a second, third, and fourth chance, ad infinitum.
 

The bottom line is: these ideas of truth cannot co-exist, they cannot all be right.
 

Now I can say with certainty that there is a common human hunger that fuels the vast majority of all religious searching. This hunger, I believe, is the underlying truly universal principle in this equation. I must recognize that all religions are invariably products of the same source, though their contents are not equal.
 

If we acknowledge that all religions are pointing to the same truth, even though they contradict one another, then we must assume that some contain errors. If we acknowledge the existence of errors then we must also acknowledge the existence of the truth they contradict.
 

So the greatest question of all is not how can we reconcile our differences and accept every religion equally, rather how can we discern which religion contains the truth?
 

Only by answering this question will true fruit be drawn from such a perplexing tree.
 

Can the answer be known with certainty?
 

Yes.
 

How do I know when someone loves me?
 

It is the moment when I realise that they know me almost as well as I know myself.
 

Perhaps they indicate this with the perfect gift, or with a healing gesture that gives aid where I didn’t realise I needed it. Somehow, somewhere they communicate their love.
 

It is by this qualification (in combination with others) that I assert that God is not only knowable, but we can discern even His personality. One quality of which is His love.
 

I will go even a step further and state that the Catholic Church, the body of Christ, contains the Truth which our hearts hunger for and that this spiritual body is the fullest expression of God’s life within us.
 

Truth is a Person who awakens, enlivens, and beautifies every mind and heart that will accept Him.
 

My only supporting argument for my claim is the fire which burns in my heart, the vibrant life which pours out from my adherence to the Church’s principles, sacraments, and community.
 

All Christians come to the realisation sooner or later that their word is not good enough. I will take it as no surprise if any of my readers refuse to take my claims to heart based upon my words alone.
 

However, compelling me from within is the obligation of Truth.
 

Each human being is individually responsible to hunt out honestly what is, and what is not.
 

Even this pursuit, as with every worthwhile adventure, requires a leap of faith.
 

Someone reading this article who did not believe me but wanted to know more would have to trust me on at least one point: there is something in the universe worth knowing that they do not yet know.
 

I could repeat a thousand times that to be in communion with Jesus Christ is more valuable, more satisfying, more joyful than every pleasurable experience I have had combined.
 

However, my claim is easy to dismiss.
 

I would ask any doubtful person just this one question: If you had found something that truly achieved everything I have just claimed, wouldn’t you too be eager to share the news of this beautiful gift?
 

Wouldn’t it be supremely selfish to keep this knowledge hidden?
 

To conclude, I must reassert that all religions are not just different hands pointing to the same door. They are not different paths leading up the same mountain.
 

They are a multifaceted intersection departing and heading in different directions. Some lead to ruin, and others to life.
 

Truth can be known and there is no greater joy to not only know Truth, but to live it out as well.

Suffering (Part 3 of 3): God Will Never Test You Beyond Your Strength

torn_copyPain is awful.
 

Suffering can be unbearable, and unthinkable. Especially when the source of our torment is the suffering of someone we love, like our children, the discomfort can be extraordinary.
 

There is within scripture and Christian tradition the idea the God will never give us more pain, or a greater trial than we can handle.
 

Recently I noticed a couple articles online which argued the opposite: that God will overwhelm us.
 

In order to believe this a person must hold a very narrow interpretation and understanding of the commonly cited quote from 1 Corinthians 10, “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength.” Beyond that, if we take two known characteristics of God, that He is both all-powerful and all-loving, then this also supports the notion that God would never test us beyond our limit.
 

Within suffering, powerlessness rears its ugly head. Our limitations and finiteness become apparent. That can be a terrifying realisation, but one from which the greatest drop of truth is born. In our helplessness comes the knowledge of our need for help, for divine assistance.
 

Those who seek to fight the crashing waves of suffering on their own are inevitably crushed and thrown about. Though a person may survive the onslaught, they emerge with jadedness, with anger. Either that, or they emerge with a dwelling attachment to suffering and the battle that surrounds it.
 

When you suffer, beg the Lord of all mercies for help!
 

He will come to your aid.
 

Not in the way you might expect or want, but He will come.
 

Do not forget, reliance on God is not a one off, once and done kind of deal.
 

Relying on God in our suffering means repeated prayers, a constant personal reminding, a striving to turn again and again, back towards He who can give peace in the world’s worst turmoil.
 

God will never give you more than you can handle.
 

Our human strength is frail, it is inevitably empty.
 

If it is our own strength which we seek to rely upon, then yes, we will encounter trials which are too great.

 

God always offers the grace, but it is up to us, the receivers, to accept it.
 

Like a tool with no one to wield it, without acceptance grace is impotent.
 

The notion that God will give us more than we can handle is a flawed one which extols the “glory” or significance of our suffering above God’s grace and love. Even if, as most of these articles point out, being overwhelmed leads to the knowledge that we need God.
 

One man claimed that this promise is not in scripture and remarks that the line from 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about temptation and not suffering. It is actually about both:
 

God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
 

In every form of suffering we have a choice: to rely on our own strength, or to trust in God’s.
 

To rely on our own is a temptation, and a serious one because it can lead to despair, the greatest separation from God’s mercy. It is pride that motivates us to shirk God’s help, and it is from this pride that God gives us ‘a way out’. The choices we make during our suffering is exactly what Paul is writing about. He asks us to trust God.
 

Trust placed in God is never in vain.
 

If we only trust Him so that the world may unfold in our image, it is folly.
 

Some struggle just to be able to accept that good may come from suffering. Those who can accept this reality often endure suffering only because they have their own notion of what they hope to accomplish through it. It is no wonder then, that the pain becomes too much, because they hope for something which has never been promised.
 

When we plan out for ourselves what good things we will receive from our suffering, we will be overcome. When we seek to embrace suffering only on a temporary basis; we will be overcome. When we attempt to utilize suffering for our own ends; we will be overcome.
 

Only when we embrace suffering with complete openness and abandonment to God’s mercy, plan, and love, will we have the grace–and as a result the strength–to endure anything.
 

‘God will give you more than you can handle is satan’s motto.
 

He spreads this notion because he wants people to lose absolute trust in God’s goodness.
 

For a God who delivers His followers into snares from which they cannot escape is either not loving or not powerful enough to deliver them.
 

The evil one glosses over this lie with notions of compassion and understanding. He whispers that if we don’t acknowledge the lie we are not compassionate towards those who suffer. When if fact, we steal from those suffering the very tool to find help immediately, not after defeat.
 

One author introduced the idea that Jesus had claimed that the passion was too much for Him, that in His agony in the garden he paraphrased this to God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 

And He went al ittle beyong them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
 

Shortly after He continues, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
 

If it was too much, Jesus would have fled. He would not have given His will up to that of His Father.
 

Instead, Jesus handed Himself over to his own crucifixion. He who could have called legions of angels to his assistance. Instead He humbled Himself to embrace torture, beatings, slander, and eventually death. It was not too much, because Christ allowed it to happen, he willingly participated in his own execution.
 

The immensity of Christ’s suffering should never be confused with a bowing of His will before the pain.
 

In imitating Christ, we must all willingly lay down our lives in our sufferings. Our emotional reaction to suffering does not have to become our actions. We must acknowledge that without God our trials are too much, but with Him, in God’s love, we can do everything. God never gives us more than we can handle, because he also supplies the grace.
 

While staying at a community in Ontario I was suffering under immense pain and confusion. To find help I asked a question to three of the communities leaders: “What do you do if you’re overwhelmed?”
 

They responded, “Stop relying on yourself.
 

It is time to draw ourselves up, out of self-pity, and into God’s love!
 

Suffering is the precursor to glory if we remain in His grace!
 

Do not lose heart, but bear your afflictions with joy. For He who has created the universe, He who has risen from the dead, will also carry you through your current hardships and into a life so resplendent and glorious that this current moment of suffering will seem like a distant, faded memory.file8781234480355

Suffering (Part 2 of 3): If God is so Good, Why do People Suffer?

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If your a sucker for repetition, look into a video or online story about a great tragedy in which either the author, or a commenter, thanks God for the salvation of the people involved.
 

If the article is broadly popular soon after you will see comments like, “If God is so good for saving this one person, why did he let the others die?” Or, “If God is loving and all powerful why did he let this tragedy happen in the first place?”
 

Rather than being genuine curiosities, these comments are sucker punches directed at the weak stomach of a suffering soul.
 

This ridicule is lacking in a proper understanding of human life. Those who wield them fail to fully include all elements of their own argument.
 

If God exists and is all loving and all powerful, as we Christians claim, then the reality of the soul is a fact. If the soul does exist then eternal life is a question of real importance. Thus, if God truly loves us, which we believe, then His chief concern is our eternal life, above all else.
 

That means that freedom from suffering and death are part, but not all of, the life of the soul, which is eternal by nature.
 

This very reality was exemplified by the God we believe in.
 

Not only does he treat us as a parent lovingly treats a child, but He went one step further and lived out suffering as we must.
 

Christ is the living example of pure goodness, pure love. What did He receive for being the unblemished lamb? Death, brutal death, at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans. Where was our supposedly good God then?
 

For Christians the crucifixion is not the end of the story, but the beginning:
 

This saga calls us to a greater intimacy, a greater understanding of this mysterious and often ridiculed God.
 

To heal only our physical sufferings but to pay no attention to our spiritual maladies is akin to curing the symptoms of serious disease but ignoring the disease itself. It may feel better for a time, but in the end the patient is far worse off.
 

Thus, forgiveness trumps relief from suffering every time.
 

Forgiveness brings intimacy and relationship. It brings the possibility of reunion which, since God is who we claim He is, is the most important aspect of every human being’s life.
 

Christ endured more suffering then can be imagined.
 

He was the only person who actually had no guilt, who actually deserved no punishment, let alone capital punishment.
 

He endured this suffering because there is something greater then relief from pain.
 

He endured this suffering so we might know freedom from the deepest pains of the human heart, those which are indescribable, and far worse than any external tragedy could bring.
 

Most parents, whether they are religious or not, understand the importance of attending to the greatest good. Parents will deny their children what they want, causing suffering to their children temporarily, knowing that a spoiled child will suffer tremendously in the future, something far worse then this mild discomfort that is occurring in this moment.
 

We all know that a parent who caves in too often will spoil the child, and this is not love. It is a form of selfishness because the parent caters to their own anxiety and not to the needs of the child.
 

If God merely relieved us from every physical discomfort, it would actually spoil us into decadence while our spiritual life careened out of control. It would cast into jeopardy the most valuable treasure any human has: relationship with Him. Because God exists, death is not nearly as final as it would seem. It means that death is a transition and not an ending, which means that our human understanding of what death is, is incomplete.
 

Though it can be unbearable as we remember those we’ve lost, those who die are not lost to us. If God would allow any human person to die in a world where death is final, He would be a lie.
 

But if death is only the gate through which we enter into His presence, then who’s to say death is ultimately bad?
 

Any person who attempts to undermine the belief of another with the argument “If God is… , then why does this happen,” would be wise to consider fully just what life with God means. There comes a time in every believers life when this very question arises, and it is an important question to flesh out. When it is born through a genuine hunger for understanding, amazing beauty comes from this query.
 

When it is wielded as an assault on the beliefs of others, or as an idle thought in an otherwise unconcerned mind, it serves no purpose.
 

As a good parent hates to see their child suffer, but may allow it for the good of that very child, so we may rest assured that God only ever allows suffering if it is for the greatest good of our own our hearts and souls.