Joy in Suffering: A Guiding Goodness

Image result for burdensWith my job here in Denver as an Emergency Assistance Adviser, I help those in need pay down their bills, specifically rent and utilities. One of the things I see the most among my clients is a down, stressed, worried face, the face of failure. So often they are in tears coming into the office because of the burden they have of paying off bills, or debt. I always hear “life is tough” or “it’s tough out there.”

Life has to be hard, and we have to go through those rough times of suffering and pain. The beauty of suffering is knowing that it prepares us for something greater. Life has to be tough or else what would there be to gain? Saint Rose of Lima once said that if we knew the value suffering has, we would pray for it. The philosophy over this is great to think about because it reveals to us that through our pain, our struggles, our burdens and worries we can understand that Heaven, the greatness and goodness of all Beauty and Glory… is real.

Look at the world for instance, we can agree that there is goodness in the world. A concrete goodness like the air, the water, the land and even our hearts that supply blood by way of the veins throughout our bodies. But more fundamental, I think what else is good is our personal ambition and our success, otherwise we wouldn’t strive to do good. Face it, there is a desire for success and as rappers Biggie and 2pac would say, “Get Money.”

Humanity throughout the course of history strives for success. We strive for that perfect job, we strive for that perfect relationship and that “dream home.” For those in third world countries it’s called “El Sueno Americano” or the American dream. The fact is that goodness, is always moving for the greater, we see this because we are always striving for something greater, for something better. Notice that there is never enough money, never a nice enough phone, or (and I love this) never a final Apple Product that tops them all. The beauty is that because of this desire for permanent Goodness, there has to be something that IS greater then all the rest otherwise, there would be an infinite regress of good things. This is Heaven, with perfect unity and relationship with God the father who is the primary Goodness. That continuous desire for goodness is a call to Heaven, a call to holiness and perfection.

But why the struggles? The answer to me is that we need those struggles and pains to strive for something better. It should be a reminder for us to learn to seek goodness, not only earthly goodness of success but Eternal goodness of holiness. Struggle prepares us, pain prepares us and teaches us what we are really made for, that is Joy and peace with our Father in Heaven. I’m reminded of getting burned as a kid, I didn’t know what I was doing, all I knew was that it hurt and I wasn’t doing it again. I wish I can say that from that moment on I walked away from the stove telling myself that fire was hot and you know what maybe I’m not suppose to be in the kitchen.

The joy, is that on our journey  to success there will be failure and times will get tough, but if its not tough how can we be molded? I like to say when the journey is tough, the destination will be great. If we can see how God is working in our lives through the suffering and through the trials, there will be an awakening of our own spirit, to strive for that goodness and seek true happiness by virtue and holiness. Today, being the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas here’s a perfect quote.

“Man’s beatitude or happiness consists in this: to see God through God’s essence.”                           -Saint Thomas Aquinas

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