Fr. Thomas Hopko wrote about this and I am sharing it with you from our parish bulletin.
“I think we have to read the New Testament again.”
- Helen: So often we hear the popular notion that God doesn’t
want us to suffer, God wants us to be happy all the time.
- Fr. Tom Hopko: That’s not the New Testament teaching. There
is not a word in the New Testament about being happy. Jesus
said, if you be my disciple, you’ll deny yourself, pick up your
cross and follow me. That’s the way to get the joy that surpasses
human understanding, the joy that no one can take away from
you. The choice for Christians is not between joy, fun and
happiness on one side and suffering on the other. There will be
suffering. Either the suffering will be redemptive, Godly and filled
with the joy that comes from God, or it will just be misery. That
would be a neurotic suffering that, you might say, is simply the
suffering of Hell.
Jesus never promised anybody a good, happy life in this world.
Take the Apostle Paul. When he had to boast that he really was
an Apostle, what did he boast in? He didn’t boast that he had a
wonderful human lineage. He didn’t boast even in his mystical
experiences. He claimed to have had a vision of the risen Christ
but, when he boasted, he boasted in what he had suffered. He
boasted in how much he was beaten and rejected for the sake of
truth, for the sake of God, for the sake of how God really is. I
think we have to read the New Testament again.
And if someone says to me “But God is compassionate,” I’d
remind them that the word “compassionate” means co-
passionate or co-suffering. The God who is compassionate is the
God who suffers with us. He’s not the God who takes our
suffering away in the fallen world. Never forget that the ultimate
revelation of God on the planet earth is in the bloody corpse of a
dead Jew hanging on a cross in front of the city of Jerusalem,
put to death by Gentiles between two thieves, in the most
horrible, vile, wretched method by which a person could die,
which, according to Mosaic Law, was even cursed. That’s the
I like that Fr. Hopko wrote that God is our CO-sufferer. God is the one Who allows us to suffer. How can you obtain crown of glory without suffering? You cannot have the resurrection without first experiencing the crucifixion. Even, Jesus suffered. We, His servants, are not exempt from suffering.
If you are suffering right now, I pray that God would have mercy on you and your situation. More importantly, I pray that YOU remember to PRAY! Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.