“For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
One of the toughest questions I had to rack my brain upon both in my philosophy and theology classes is: “If God is all-good, all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing, why do people still suffer in this life?” Reading through today’s first reading, it appears that the author of the letter to the Hebrews also battled with the same question. Using the life of Christ as an example, the author concludes: “Suffering exists to teach us compassion for others.”
We read: “Therefore He had to be made like his brethren in every respect so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God… For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18) Jesus suffered so that as God, He would know how best to help us who are suffering.
Suffering teaches us to be compassionate and to offer solutions to others when they suffer. If you have never suffered anything before, how would you be able to respond to those who are in worse conditions than yourself? Suffering is painful, no one prays for it but it is just part of life. We all pray to escape from it but it seems the more we try, the less we succeed. Ultimately, we would always need someone to help us out of our pain and suffering. No human being is totally independent neither is any human being completely free from one form of suffering or another.
While we cannot understand suffering, we must learn from our personal sufferings the need to be kind and compassionate to others. Stop asking “Why am suffering?” Start asking: “How can I prevent others from suffering this same thing?” If you can answer this question, then, like Jesus, your suffering would become the redemption of others.
If God permits suffering in your life, it is not out of hatred or punishment, it is because He knows that something good can come out it. Don’t have this attitude of complaint or bitterness against God, do not seek to revenge (lest you open your mind for the devil to feed you with all kinds of evil thoughts). Just look at the unique opportunities your situation is offering to you.
In our Gospel passage, Peter invited Jesus to his house. His mother-in-law was sick. As soon as they told Jesus, He went straight to cure her. That evening, the whole town gathered at Peter’s doorpost. Jesus did not send anyone away. He understood their suffering and in compassion attended to all of them until there was no one left. Jesus still created time for personal prayer.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me a heart like yours that cares, loves and forgives. Free me from hate, revenge and bitterness. Amen.
Bible Study: Hebrews 2:14-18, Psalm 105, and Mark 1:29-39).