Suffering and Me...

October 25, 2009

"God hides at times only to make the joy of personal discovery possible for us." .
The human being is struggling till today in the process of discovering answers to two important realities namely suffering and death. Never have we been able, to find a satisfactory answer. Can we ever understand this mystery?Even this may look like another sermon to many. But i wish to express this.

How can the Almighty allow so many innocents to suffer? Why  is God so mute to the prayer of his suffering people? Is God really the cause of evil? Why did the earthquake strike a mosque in Gujarat when people where gathered for prayer?  Why did Tsunami devastate the lives of the simple fisherfolk who relied on the sea for their livelihood? Can we accept it as the will of God? How can a mother accept her first born to be handicapped or die at birth?
Aren’t these questions disturbing YOU and ME?

In today’s modern world anxiety is increasing every year. The more the modern world accentuates accomplishments, success, and competition, the greater is the suffering of those who think they are not allowed to come up in life. Most traditions look at suffering as a primary foe. Orientals seek a therapeutic answer to suffering (how to remedy it). Accidental’s see it as a metaphysical question (who or what causes it). For a Yogi finding god is finding freedom and avoiding suffering. Suffering has been a mystery to all over the ages.

Suffering and prayer is not without purpose. For a farmer, pain and labour is a must to reap a rich harvest. For parents, bringing up their children is painful. For a student studying for the exams at the last moment is difficult. Even a lover has to bear with his beloved till the relationship gets rooted. Husband and wife have to accept each other’s feelings. A poor man is forced to look for food and shelter from the rich. The mother has to take extra care for her handicapped child. Ultimately what we are and how our life goes is the result of a series of choices and preferences we make between what is of value and what is not.

Suffering cannot be easily defined, nor can it be easily answered. It is a mystery. It can be best described as a puzzle whose separate pieces, meaningless in themselves begin to form an image only when put together.

Everyone wishes to overcome pain and suffering. All seek to be happy and joyful. At times faith lessens pain. Even the tallest of houses looks small when flanked by a skyscraper. Buddha spoke of attaining nirvana, when pain and passion can no longer be felt. A well known zoologist R. Ardey says “Humans are basically language-speaking, pleasure-seeking beings confronted with the problem of suffering and death.” Concern for suffering is not new, either in social history or in the tradition of any religion. Society has worried over its catastrophes, the acts of God as well as its isolated thoughts.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt,” says Thomas Merton. Society seems to be at a stage, where people move about like nervous actors, acting with stage-fright, simply afraid of failing in their roles. Thomas Kempis was right when he said “Suffering transcends human judgment and no study or decision can express the judgment.”

Only a lover knows the pain involved in committing to his/her beloved. People need each other to live, suffer and even their pain is unique and personal. Pain is bearable only when people see meaning of it when confronted.

For most people this is a difficult subject to speak on. But I have begun to understand its importance in life after my two important experiences that made me emotionally stronger and I wish to share its worth with many more people.

There is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for our dream than to be defeated without ever knowing what you're fighting for. I have learnt that suffering though does not seem acceptable at its peak hour; it makes meaning after our encounter with it.

In my life painful experiences have come as the flashing of thunder making me upset twice. One of them was, when I was in the first year of my training. One day I was punished badly for coming late.  I felt really insulted before others. I had been to the hairdresser that day which got delayed because of the number of customers. That day I had almost made up my mind to leave the Congregation. But during my Annual retreat a year later, I began to realize and accept that it made me realize the cost of being responsible for the future. I still remember the words of a priest who helped me at that time of crisis, “God always wishes to bring good out of every bad experience or encounter we encounter which really inspires me even today to accept suffering. It strengthened me for my future. This may sound spiritual but has given me grace to face difficulties till today.

The second one was when I lost my elder brother Br. Loy Fernandes to an unexpected tragedy on 18th August 2006 in the Bay of Bengal waters. He was a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy in Chennai. It came as a great shock to many who saw and met him. He had been to the sea shore for a dip after the hectic exams. He was a promising young man aspiring to go to Nagaland. When I heard the news, I never believed it at first, because I thought God may save him somehow through the help of some good person out in the sea just as I had seen in movies. But to loose someone close to me at the tender age of 24 was never easy neither for me nor for my family. My father’s faith and calmness taught me great lessons. How can one accept such a tragedy? How can one be a consoler to the family which has offered their son for God’s service? Why does God want a young man too soon for himself? That day my eyes were opened. I realized for the first time that it does not matter how long you live but how you live.

When Tsunami struck the coasts of South India, I got an opportunity to go for the relief work and to be with the victims for whom it was an unexpected tragedy of suffering. I stayed with them and helped them to get back to life, but found unable to console them for I could not answer their questions. It was there, that I realized that suffering is beyond human understanding. It can be understood only when accepted as a passing moment of life’s cycle. The experiences of various people shook my faith and made me reflect on the meaning of suffering. That day I had decided to pray for the people who have no one to pray for.

Suffering is like the chisel that brings out the hidden art in a statue. A Rabbi once said, “When bad things happen we should not attend to it with theology but with sympathy. When suffering strikes all theories collapse.
Acceptance of suffering as a passing moment is a better way though it weakens and embitters us as persons. Suffering never leaves anything as before. No one remains the same after an encounter. A new chapter is written in one’s life.

Many have never known true happiness but then there is nobody who has never been confronted by some misfortune. Suffering never works as a automatic electric switch that can cast light when put on. It is a journey of discovery. Ultimately we are the meaning-givers. It is left to us whether we wish to be chiseled for a better life witness. I can't speak much...

Lancy Fernandes - Archives:

by Lancy Fernandes
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Comment on this article

  • Kevin Dias, Katpady

    Tue, Oct 27 2009

    My dear friends in Christ, Please read the article well, Lancy my dear friend has given us all his views and he expects us to give him the two answers. In my views the same is very clear without hurting the sentiments of anyone concerned. Glory comes from above we are only instruments in life, God has given each one of us to think and act and speak the facts, so my dear people when we speak lets be be more honest by way of reading the contents expressed.God Bless. Kevin Dias - Mumbai.

  • Claude Carvalho, Canada

    Mon, Oct 26 2009

    Very nice article. Hope every one who are suffering may get a chance to read this. I expect similar articles in the future to give relief for the people and keep happy.

  • Precilla /Dsouza, Vamadapadau /Israel

    Mon, Oct 26 2009

    Very good article hope everyone remember at once god is there he is watching us all the time well done this article open youth eyes may god bless you

  • Asif, Mangalore/Saudi

    Mon, Oct 26 2009

    Nice artical. It makes faith towards God strong. God likes who likes patience.

  • linus, mangalore

    Mon, Oct 26 2009

    Meaningful sentences.This article gives courage and strength to one in need. Thank you for the trouble taken. One can share with others in different ways. God Bless you.

  • jane Dsouza, Kallianpur

    Mon, Oct 26 2009

    The two mysteries suffering n death are interconnected. Life is not always a bed of roses,through your entire life you need to suffer either in a small way or a big problem, and if its some sort of terminal illness then death is only the consolation. sufferings make one strong. the way i take my life is, I see any problem as a testing time for me in my life, i too have undergone a lot of suffering, I patiently take it as it comes, live one moment at a time, put in all my efforts, work hard towards a solution and lastly pray to god for help,

    In a way I accumulate all sorts of help I could seek, make myself strong and finally sooner or later try and solve or atleast make myself confident enough to face the situation, Well when the sufferings is with children, then its really hell on earth, innocent hearts when they suffer makes life terrible for the parents, but who is to be blamed? Prayers can only be the consolation to every suffering on this earth n death n eternal peace.

  • Kevin Dias, Mumbai

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Hi Lancy, As children of Christ, we have to be positive and that suffering is never a pain, it brings each one closer in our relation with God. Your chemistry let me be honest was good but let us not confuse minds over different happenings that took place and relate was it the plan of God to see the sufferings on earth. My dear friend to put your article in a nutshell... 1. Suffering opens the gateway to Heaven. 2. Death is entering the gate to God. Let us contribute ourselves to life and get enriched by one and all. God Bless. Kevin Dias - Mumbai.

  • santhosh rai, abudhabi

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    nice article

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Great article with such a great relevance at these hard times. We don't have the answer to many of the questions we face today, but only can find peace by the help of God. Humanity suffer collectively due to natural calamities, on the other hand, everybody will have to face some pesonal tragedies in varying degress else the human life is not perfect. Andrew Carnegie was born very poor but was one of the richest persons of his time, donated millions of dollars for charities, said " poverty and suffering in the early part of life is a positive gift from God".

    Can we talk on this subject as a helthy topic so that the readers and writers can learn valuable lessons of life. Suffering is an integral part of life, it may take place at any turn and time of life, only God can hold us in those painful hours of life. I am not talking about the pain caused by natural calamities, but due to our greed and pride of life, we bring ourself a lot of nunecessary sufferings of life. But nailing down those spiritual maladies of life, we can avoid a lot of pains of our own making.

  • Jossie D'Mello SJ, Mangalore

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Thank you, Lancy, for this article on suffering. Since you shared your own life experience on suffering, the article became much more personal and concrete. Suffering is something which is part of our life. But at times it hits us badly. It is a topic which has been discussed at length from various perspectives, like, philosophical, theological etc.. But the challenge is when one encounters it. The difficulty arises, when one has to make a transition from WHY to HOW: Initially one begins to ask WHY ME? But gradually one has to ask HOW TO FACE THIS SUFFERING. Here the attitude with which one approaches sickness and suffering can make a difference.

  • Stephen, Kashipatna/Dubai

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Word of God says I have come to give life, life in abundance, which means if you accept Lord Jesus as personal saviour and truly follow Him you will have life in abundance. God always gives good, nothing bad comes from God. We are under the grace hence curse doesn't operate on us ( I mean on those who are spriritually born again as per John 3:3). All bad things, sickness, pain etc comes from the devil, which is his main job. Christians unfortunately are blinded by their own doctrines.

  • Antony,

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    it is nice and thought p[rovoking article.We the human beings tend to see the negetive part of suffering.We need to realize that we follow the suffering Lord who won over suffering. Hence in my openion there is no meaning in happiness without suffering as there is no good without evil in the world.

  • Vivian Castelinio, Puttur / Abu Dhabi

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Dear Lancy, answer to your question lies in Bible. The suffering that I get today could be, assuming I am leading a good life, be due to the wrong things that my ancesosters did those days, for God's Justice is not the way we humans think the way Justice ought to be.If God created this world, he also knows how to distingwish the right from wrong.

    Hence the sufferings that you have elobrated on innocent victims at various places may not be due to the direct actions of victims. During my recent All India travel, in Secunderbad I had hired a taxi, for a day, and taxi driver was explaining to me the past Glory of twin cities and the might of Kings that ruled those cities prior to independence and their specific multiple sexual life, indicating that he (driver) is the desedent of Royal blood.

    I am just stating what was said, and if is true, can we believe royal blood today has to serve as driver, this is for me suffering for the actions of his ancesostors. Death, is beautiful creation of God, for two reasons, first it helps all humans to be with creator and second if death was not there, imagine the world full of people, old, weak and sick. Yes death is painful but essential. Prayer with faith can only bring solace when we suffer or when death comes to us / to our dear ones. Thank you.

  • Fahim Mugdi, Shirur / jeddah

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Dont count Years But count Your memories... Excellent article,by reading this I have recollect few moments in life were suffering occured ... Ability is what you are capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, Attitude determines how well you do it... Keeping your cool in times of sufferings is 90%of the battle ,If you can keep calm everything will be ok,the more days that pass the easier it will get , so no crazy stuff...

  • latha, mangalore

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    very good article.i fot some insights as to how to face little suffering in my day today life thank you very much.god bless you

  • Black Tiger, Salmiya-Al Kuwayt

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    a well presented are so full of potential.thank you

  • Felix, Kinnigoli / Dubai

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Nice one, which gave me little relief during this time where all gulf expatriates are experiencing job insecurity, i.e. suffering.

  • Max Sequeira, Mangalore/Bahrain

    Sun, Oct 25 2009

    Excellent article. I think I got a part answer to these two aspects of life, sufferring & death. I also feel that by helping others in their sufferring, God may look at you kindly.

  • Raj, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Sat, Oct 24 2009

    Good article!


    Sat, Oct 24 2009


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