In times like these, it can be especially challenging for humanity to believe in an all-loving, all-powerful God.
This phenomenon has happened for millennia. In the Psalms, the Israelites sang about how people questioned them: “Where is your God?” Where is your God while you are captives? While you are in famine? While you are suffering?
Shaking Fists at Heaven
As a twenty year old, I began to experience fiery pain in my hands, feet, arms, legs—as if I were being bitten by fire ants. My body felt like it always had bruises. I was physically exhausted, as if daily life required as much energy as running a marathon. After dozens of blood tests and even a brain scan, my doctors could not provide me with relief.
I recall very clearly standing in my dorm room and shaking my fists at heaven as I cried aloud. What is this?? Why me? I have always done my best to serve you. What have I done to deserve this?
God’s Power Against Evil
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. (John 9:1-3)
In Jesus’ time, and sometimes even in the modern day, people would view suffering as the direct result of that person’s sin (or their parents’ sin). In Sunday’s Gospel, however, Jesus corrected this line of thinking. Suffering is not good, and therefore cannot be from God.
Rather, God is so good, so powerful, and so loving; even amidst evil, God can bring about life and healing.
After I had lived with my symptoms for a while, my eyes began to open to the gifts that were coming to fruition in the midst of my ailments:
- Because I was weaker, I needed to ask for help more often. Thus, my pride and desire for control were being chipped away, bit by bit.
- Because I suffered, my heart began to open in greater sympathy for other people’s challenges. I began to start from a foundation of giving people the benefit of the doubt.
- Because my suffering was hidden behind the appearance of youth, I soon acquired the ability to look beyond people’s appearances and see their hearts.
These gifts were far more valuable than physical health.
Healing Beyond Understanding
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus heals the blind man, and slips away. The man is brought before the religious leaders and questioned alongside his parents. The inquisitors cannot believe or accept that a healing occurred. They considered Jesus’ act as “doing work on the Sabbath” which was therefore sinful in their eyes. Further, they could not fathom why God would take away the blindness that they thought was a punishment for sin. They could not understand how God could bring goodness out of a situation that appeared to them to be evil.
The same often rings true for us. Our created minds cannot fully comprehend the ways of the Creator.
This is why our relationship with Jesus is so important. Jesus is God. He is Emmanuel, meaning God-with-us! Our Creator knows that it is impossible for his creatures to understand his ways, yet he wants to assure us of his nearness and love. That is one of the main reasons why the second person of the Holy Trinity, God the Word, became one of us; and the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14).
One day, as I was overwhelmed by pain, I closed my eyes and cried out to God. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus on the Cross, and I saw that he was suffering with me. It was then that I realized: God is always with us.
Light of Life
I pray that in our confusion, in our suffering, in our struggles, we will turn to Jesus. Let’s spend time with him in the Gospel. May we find hope by trusting Jesus’ words:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
In times of suffering, when we focus on the darkness, it will appear that God is gone. But when we choose to turn toward the light, we see that God is with us. God is in every instance of healing, every act of care, every look of love, every miracle of selflessness. God is bringing about the good. As children of light, let’s be bearers of light. Let’s illuminate for others God’s presence and nearness to us now.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate for 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.