I am not a good christian according to the Church’s standard. I don’t like going to church every week, although I don’t mind. Actually, I don’t even agree with the teaching that christians should go to church every week. However, Christmas and Easter are the two occasion that I believe all chritian should go to church. It is OK not go to church on normal days, but not on these two important days. That is the mininium requirement of being a christian.
Last night I went to a Good Friday retreat. The event was for young adults and the topic is on suffering. Father Justin had a talk on what suffering can benefits us and we can embrace suffering for Jesus. We listened to a suffering story by surviving POW prisoner in Vietnam and did a group sharing. Other than the presentation of the core message, there were also the usual activities of any retreat, like an ice breaker, Rosary, praise and worship.
The message of the night is about the usual fuzzy warm feeling about God’s love. We did not talk about the question of why suffering exists. I can see a positive altitude on suffering can help us coup better with suffering, especially those we can do nothing to change. It is true that suffering may benefit us, but it still does not explain why it should exists in the first place. It seems suffering has no intrinsic value but only instrumental value, it only serves the function to bring us closer to God. However it does not follow that is the only way or the best way. An almighty God should able to accomplish the same task without suffering.
One popular church saying is that God will not let us suffer that we cannot take. Maybe those who survived the suffering can thank God for the test to make him a better man, but what about those who can’t make it out. The POW prisoner did not regret his horrible experience in the POW camp that brings him closer to God. But what about his fellow prisoners who never get home. There over 2500 American soldiers captured by Vietnamese, after 5 years of in prison, only 300 are still alive, the mortality rate is over 80%. It is undisputed that those only who have faith can survive the suffering. But where is the meaning of the suffering of the dead whose life are lost in vain.
The take home message of the retreat is that suffering can make us a better person and closer to God. I do agree with this message, especially when it applies to others. There must some people really bothers you in your life, they did not intended to hurt you but it happens there are faults in their characters. If they can become a better person and closer to God, their problems, and yours, should go away. In this case, wishing them to suffer is not out of hate nor revenge, but sincerely for their own good so that they can learn some lessons from God.