Why Do We Suffer?

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”


When I turned 30 (a long, long year ago), I began experiencing what I believe to be a semi-midlife crisis. I didn’t want to go out and buy a fancy car or find a new husband (sorry, Nick). But I did notice my mortality hung over my head, heavy and foreboding. And a new urgency to accomplish meaningful goals consumed and haunted me. It felt like I was running out of time. Pair with that seeing my mom and many of my friends’ parents in the same age bracket being diagnosed with (or sadly being taken by) various types of cancer, I soon found myself in a vulnerable disposition for the enemy to take advantage of. Full disclosure, I teetered between despair and mania much of this last year.

A lot of my inner dialogue was asking God why. Why did he even create us if he knew we’d fail Him in Eden? Why did he allow us free will if he knew we would abuse it so brutally? Why do we have to suffer and see our loved ones suffer in this broken world? Why?

His answer to me (and I’m still understanding it even now), is simply this:

Free Will = True Love.

His heart is close to the brokenhearted. He does not enjoy seeing His creation weeping and sick. But, like a truly good parent who lets His children fly from the nest to experience TRUE freedom, he allowed us this bittersweet gift called freewill.

In the process of breaking through its shell, a baby bird’s wing muscles are strengthened. If the mother bird helped it free, the little one would fail to have enough strength to be fully developed. And it would die. God allows us to endure our own “shells” in this life so that we can become our fullest selves, our freest selves in our truest life — which is after this one.

We can hear this logic a thousand times. But to truly allow it to penetrate our hearts is a process. Probably a lifelong one! Today, the verses I shared with you have granted me a renewed strength for whatever time I have left on earth. And I hope they do the same for you.

When I feel anxious about death, I remind myself of this truth. Every desire in the human person has a fulfillment. We have hunger, so we have food. We have loneliness, so we have friends and spouses and family. We have a need to be purposeful, so we have work and education and virtue. We have a desire to be eternal… so we have an eternal world.

C.S. Lewis puts it perfectly: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

So, break through that shell, little birdie! You’re not alone with your thoughts or your hurts. Bring it to Him. Bring it to your community of believers.

Beir bua agus beannacht,
(Gaelic, old chaps. Means “Take a Victory and Blessing!”)