Move Over Job, We’re Suffering too!


“The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others.   The material and physical suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, being alone, feeling unloved, having no-one.” Mother Theresa

Suffering, together with other painful and ‘bad things’ happening in our lives are some of the experiences common to the most of us.   They impact on our lives relentlessly.   They are an inevitable part of the human condition – it is part of being alive.

Suffering does not necessarily depend on our state of life, our age, or where we were born.  It is a common experience of humanity at which we work to avoid at all costs.

Why do we have to suffer, even when we strive to lead good lives as did the righteous Job?    Job didn’t have all the answers and like Job, we don’t know why God allows certain situations to turn our lives upside down.    How often do we ask the question ‘why’ when we see or experience intense suffering in our personal lives and in the world at large?

Human suffering is hard to understand.   Some see it as a natural and unfortunate part of life.   Others see it as a mystery to be accepted although difficult to understand.   We can gain some consolation from the comforting words in Matthew’s Gospel (10:26-36) where we read that not one sparrow will fall without God knowing about it.

Also, we are reassured that we are worth much more to Him than sparrows.   However, while God loves the sparrow and each one of us, He does not necessarily prevent sparrows and humans from falling or suffering!

We can ask ourselves why didn’t God create a world in such a way that nothing ever went wrong.   However, in His wisdom, He didn’t.   God created a world in which we experience not only pain and suffering but also love, courage, faith, compassion and hope.

We have to accept that we are not mere robots living in a perfect world but are human beings living in an imperfect world where bushfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, serious illnesses, the current pandemic and now, disturbingly, the news of imminent warfare.   Mistakenly, some people even believe these catastrophes are sent to us as punishment for our ‘sinful and selfish lives.’

Maybe, part of the answer is that suffering encourages us to stop and contemplate our lives more deeply.   We suffer whenever we experience something so unpleasant, so distressing, that we long for it to end.

Often, suffering can surprise us because we mostly expect our lives to be normal and when the opposite happens, we wonder why life isn’t as we suppose it should be.   This is what can jolt us out of our complacency and prompt us to think more deeply about what life means.

One of my favourite authors from way back, M. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Travelled, explained how life will always have pain and suffering and that those who are able to embrace that pain will be far better off.     Now many years later, I wonder are we any better off by fully embracing our suffering and painful experiences?   So much easier said than done!

If anything, there seems to be more suffering in the world.    We not only have to deal with our own suffering but also having to witness the ongoing universal suffering still happening due to the Covid pandemic and now the possibility of war.

So how do we cope with these painful experiences?   We can try to go it alone, or we can choose to seek help.       I’m not thinking here just of medical and psychological help but at a deeper, more spiritual level.   I’m talking about having faith and trust in a loving God.

I am often amazed, and not a little saddened, as I witness friends and loved ones who, despite their problems, choose not to have a faith relationship with God.   For them, there is no God or Higher Power – it’s just them.   The problem with that is they are right – it is just them……..

During his horrific suffering, Job’s faith was severely tested.    Job wavered many times spiritually, but he endured the test of faith because he trusted in God even when he didn’t understand and his life made no sense to him.   The most difficult spiritual truth in the Book of Job is that God allows us also to suffer without explanation.

Suffering can strengthen our faith or suffering can shatter our faith.  Job chose to place his trust in God.      No matter how difficult our lives become, we too can place our trust in God believing that His love and His grace are enough. It is up to us to make that choice.

Peggy Spencer is an active member of her parish church, St. John the Baptist, in Fern Tree Gully near Melbourne, Australia. Though not a "professional" writer, Peggy has always loved writing.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 07:09h, 23 March Reply

    Thank you Peggy!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 07:35h, 23 March Reply

    Upon reading this I was jolted into an awakening that I needed to have. So often is is so easy to complain if things are not going our way, or rather the way we think they should be going. It is not easy to accept discomfort in our life, be it sickness, some kind of hardship be it relationships or the trials of day to day living. This is not easy but it can be, GOD’S LOVE is enough for us if we allow ourselves to recognise His presence in the midst of all that the world throws up at us.Our Faith is being tested continuosly we are invited to reach out to the Love of God to let Him enter our lives and show us how much He loves us.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 08:54h, 31 March Reply

    Exactly what I needed to hear, be reminded of, today! Thank you so much, Peggy! And thank you, Graeme.
    God bless you and keep you.

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