Why do good people suffer...

Question:

I am 33 years old, married for 11 years to my high school sweetheart. We both chose to save ourselves until marriage. We planned our future so carefully so that we would be well established financially for having children. After almost 2 years of trying to conceive, we recently discovered that I have 2 tumors that are the cause of my infertility. I had surgery recently to remove one, and will have another one in January to remove the other tumor. It just seems so strange to me that 2 good people like ourselves would have to go through this...

How do you explain this type of situation? Why would God do this to us? I just don't understand. As it is, I already suffered enough in my life (my father was murdered by military dictators when I was 1.5 years old, and I never really knew my mother since she had to leave the country (Uruguay) so they wouldn't kill her also). Do you think there is a reason for all this suffering? I just don't understand. Especially since I am a good person who is generous and loving and I do my best to bring goodness to this world.

Also, I'm curious whether you think our society will ever become a "civilization of love?" Many of us do our part in bringing love and kindness to this world, but it feels at times that we are outnumbered.

I would be very interested in hearing your opinion...

Thanks very much,
Carmen

 

Questions...

 

 

Dear Carmen,

I apologize that it has taken me so long to respond to your question. My own life has been very busy as I’m trying to balance family and ministry.

I understand very much the pain that you and your husband are going through in not being able to have children. The cross of infertility is a very large one indeed! Your question raises many issues and I want to be sensitive in addressing these, while being purposeful in my response.

Your main question seems to be, “Why do good people suffer?”

This is a question that is so very often asked, by people in every age. Suffering is part of the human condition and it is a mystery that bears pondering. There is no person who has ever lived who has not suffered.

Even Jesus Christ – who never sinned – suffered. In fact, He suffered tremendously! But His suffering reveals to us something about our own suffering. Jesus’ death on the cross gives us the greatest image of love, which is totally self-sacrificing. He accepted the cross freely and never wavered in His purpose. He poured out every last drop of His love for us on the cross. And through His cross, He gave us life. Good Friday always precedes Easter!

We cannot have resurrection without the cross. The cross, our suffering, gives meaning to our life precisely because we can unite our suffering to Christ’s suffering on the cross. Through His suffering and pain, our suffering and pain can be transformed into powerful weapons of prayer and a means of grace. That grace can change lives, save souls and transform our own hearts to holiness.

Suffering is part of the human condition. Christians are not exempt from suffering. And Jesus never promised that those who are good would never suffer. In fact, He tells us in Luke 9:23: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” What Christ is telling us is that for Christians there is a purpose and value in suffering. There is power in the cross!

Fr. John Corapi, a great Catholic evangelist, says: “Do not flee the cross. Because when you flee the cross you flee Jesus. And when you flee Jesus, you flee love!”

Through our crosses, when we are weakest and most in need of God, we are closest to God. For example, during the years when you were content in waiting to have children – carrying on with your own plans in life – did you turn to God as much as you do now that you have this cross to bear? Typically, when times are good, people don’t have as much need for God. Though we can be faithful and intent in our prayer life in the good times, it is precisely when times get tough that we turn more fervently in prayer.

It is through these times that God can manifest His power. Sometimes that is to heal, even physically. But, often He manifests His power through offering to us spiritual healing, of which we are all in need! God is always able to draw a greater good out of our suffering than we could ever imagine.

He has a plan. He is in control. And His plan for our lives is perfect – even when we don’t understand it. Sometimes we choose to follow our own wills and in doing so we sometimes thwart God’s original plans for us. But God is always able to draw good out of our mistakes and failures. Even – and especially – through the hardships of our life, He is able to draw us to holiness.

Pray to be close to God through this suffering. Pray to be able to unite your suffering with Christ’s on the cross. Offer up that suffering for special intentions: an end to abortion, conversion of sinners, the souls in purgatory, peace in the world, or other personal intentions. There is meaning and power in suffering. Pray to God to be able to see that and to avail yourselves of that power!

Remember that gold is tested in fire to become purified. Allow God to purify your love for Him through this time of suffering. Allow Him to transform your heart to make it like pure gold

You asked the question: “Why would God do this to us?”

Big question!! I hope you can be open to what I am about to say. You see, I don’t believe God did this to you. You must remember that for the first nine years of your marriage you were not open to the blessing of children from God. You had other plans, and children were not a part of that at that time. I realize you were trying to be responsible in your efforts to be well established financially before having children. But, the problem is that you let the most opportune time to conceive in your life pass by. This is a mistake that many people make in our culture.

I don’t know how desperate your financial circumstances were in the first nine years of your marriage. Sometimes finances can present as grave circumstances in our life. But, sometimes, we can get so absorbed in “planning” our life and being in control that we forget to pray to know and follow God’s will for us.

The Catholic Church teaches that a couple can use Natural Family Planning as a means of spacing children or avoiding pregnancy when the circumstances in their life are grave. By grave, the Church mean very serious. Grave circumstance means that there is sufficient reason to be closed to the blessing of children at a certain time in your life. This is a tough thing for our society to grasp. In light of your present situation you might now ask yourself if the circumstances back then had been serious enough to run the risk of never again being able to have children?!

This is a painful question to ask. I do not ask it to burden you with guilt or to be insensitive to your pain. God is so gracious in His mercy. And we all make mistakes. Some of them we regret for a long time. If you need to seek reconciliation with God, please do so with confidence. And then try to move on in your life of faith with courage and hope!

I also encourage you to consider your personal circumstances as a means of bearing witness to others so that they might not fall into the same “trap” of our culture as you maybe did in your early married life. I see how the burden of your present situation is very challenging and heartbreaking. I am truly sorry that this has happened to you. And I don’t blame you if, like so many other Catholics in our culture, you did not fully appreciate, understand or embrace the teaching of the Church regarding openness to life. But the Church, in her wisdom, teaches this for a reason.

Openness to life is a vow that we include in our marriage vows. It is part of the purpose of marriage – though not every marriage is blessed with children. Somehow, though, our culture has duped us into thinking that children are choices. We have them when we want them, when we are ready for them and when they are convenient for us. Then, if we don’t receive children when we are willing, wanting and waiting for them, we are angry that God is denying us our right to have children.

Children are neither a “choice” nor a “right”. They are a blessing from God. And as such, we need to be open to receiving the blessing from God when He so wills it for us.

I am not sure if you practiced Natural Family Planning for those nine years or if you used a form of contraception. What many people are not aware of, is that many forms of contraception can lead to problems with fertility – just one of the many little details that doctors and pharmacists so often neglect to communicate to patients! It is really criminal the way our medical profession can push contraception at us, without ever communicating to us the very real dangers to our health and possible complications to our fertility.

So, if you have been duped by that situation, again, I am very sorry for you. I am not here to judge you – only to help make sense out of a difficult situation.

You asked if I believe that there will ever be a Civilization of Love.

Yes, I can say whole-heartedly, I do! Our Pope, in His wisdom and through the prophetic nature of his office, has called all Christians, and indeed all persons, to work together to build a Civilization of Love.

This is not a unique vision of Pope John Paul II, but this is the calling of God for each of us. Jesus calls us to abide in love. The greatest commandment is love. We are all capable of love, in fact, we were created for love . . . it is the meaning of our being – to be in loving communion with God and with each other.

The more we, as Christians, bear witness to this love, the more the world will recognize God in us and be drawn to Him. Through this new evangelization we will change the world, I believe, one heart at a time.

This is the hope that my book, Arms of Love, communicates to readers. We do change the world around us as we live our faith. In the simple things we do, as faithful Catholics, we touch those around us. We don’t have to go around preaching to others. We just need to be sincere in our own faith. We need to be a people of hope . . . trusting that God is in control and that He has a perfect plan for our life – both here on earth and eternally. And we have to take time to form ourselves in faith and in the truth. Remember what St. Peter tells us: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3: 15)

Yes, I do believe there will be a Civilization of Love. I also believe that there is much more goodness in the world than evil. If not, we would not still be here. God is the victor, always and forever!

I know that you have suffered much in your life. But I also know that those who suffer a great deal are very close to God’s heart. I pray that you will open your heart to His that you might experience His consolation and feel the passion of His love for you!

Remember, especially during this holy season of Christmas, that God loved you so much that He gave His only Son, so that if you believe in Him you should not perish but have eternal life. I just paraphrased the popular John 3:16. But if you read on to John 3:17 you’ll see: “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Trust in God’s mercy and His infinite love and care for you and your husband.

I hope that you are able to receive this response in the spirit in which it was written. I was touched deeply by your story and have prayed much for you and your husband since I first heard from you. I hope that the Lord will bless you both with peace and, if it be His will, that He will bless your home with children. You have much love to share. Seek out the Lord and His will so that you might know where and how He plans for you to share that life-giving love.

I ask that you would keep me, my family and this ministry of promoting purity in your prayers. I welcome a reply from you at any time.

Blessings on both you and your husband,

In His Most Holy Name,

Carmen Marcoux