Why Does God Allow Us To Suffer?

Why does God allow bad things to happen to us? It’s a question most of us will struggle to answer at some point in our lives. When life’s deepest tragedies hit, it’s difficult to find God’s love in the midst of our suffering. Father George Elliot provides some insight.

As Father George Elliot explained, bad things happen as a result of our free will. God never desires for us to sin, but He respects our gift of free will so much that He allows us to do things that are not good for us. God also wills the greater good out of every evil that we may not be able to see when we are going through trials.

What Do The Saints Say About Suffering?

“Sometimes, we may have to suffer along the way that leads to the holy mountain of perfection, but we will not be discouraged, because whoever ignores the purpose of Christian suffering does not recognize and know what is great and wonderful in her days…Let us then be glad when an unexpected cross presents itself, and we are afflicted with pain. These are the choice fruits of the mystic vine, destined to bear inestimable merits for our souls. When you have to suffer, do not go about sighing like those who don’t know its value! Lift up your eyes and smile sweetly on what you suffer, which is like a field turning golden for the harvest. She who knows how to reap in this field will receive the reward. With gentle sweetness always unite your suffering with that of Jesus. Then your travail, suffered for Jesus and His divine Heart, will become as many droplets immersed in the immense ocean of His Passion. In this manner, our tribulations and pains united to those of our beloved Jesus will become not only holy but divinized and worthy of eternal glory…Be wise, then…and never waste sufferings by enduring them with complaints, or in a worldly fashion without a supernatural end.”

–  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini 

“If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.” – St Vincent de Paul

“Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else He says: ‘Follow me’ ‘Come!’ Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him. He does not discover this meaning at his own human level, but at the level of the suffering of Christ. At the same time, however, from this level of Christ the salvific meaning of suffering descends to man’s level and becomes, in a sense, the individual’s personal response. It is then that man finds in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.”


“Whether we will or not, we must suffer. There are some who suffer like the good thief, and others like the bad thief. They both suffered equally. But one knew how to make his sufferings meritorious, he accepted them in the spirit of reparation, and turning towards Jesus crucified, he received from His mouth these beautiful words: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. “

The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered imprecations and blasphemies, and expired in the most frightful despair. There are two ways of suffering – to suffer with love, and to suffer without love. The saints suffered everything with joy, patience, and perseverance, because they loved. As for us, we suffer with anger, vexation, and weariness, because we do not love. If we loved God, we should love crosses, we should wish for them, we should take pleasure in them. . . . We should be happy to be able to suffer for the love of Him who lovingly suffered for us. Of what do we complain? Alas! the poor infidels, who have not the happiness of knowing God and His infinite loveliness, have the same crosses that we have; but they have not the same consolations. You say it is hard? No, it is easy, it is consoling, it is sweet; it is happiness. Only we must love while we suffer, and suffer while we love.

On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for, whatever we do, the cross holds us tight – we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven?” – St. John Vianney

Whatever trials the Lord sends you, whatever sacrifices he asks of you, whatever duties he imposes on you, always have this response of love and faithfulness on your lips and in your heart: Here is your servant, O my God, ready to undertake all, to give all, to sacrifice all, to offer up all, as long as your will may be accomplished in me and on all the earth.

—St. Bernadette

More Resources To Help Catholics Understand Why We Suffer

Catholic Bytes Podcast 60 Seconds: Suffering with Fr. Kyle Manno | Unite your suffering to Jesus.

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