If God Is Merciful, Then Why Is There Suffering?

God is merciful and he allows suffering, but why? In this Divine Mercy series episode with Fr. Chris Alar of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, we hear a story about a man whose five-year-old niece just died.

He asked Fr. Chris and his brother the age-old question about suffering and God. Fr. Chris gave the rote, straight-out-of-seminary answer and it just made the man angrier. His brother gave the more truthful response, which emphasized how God never wills suffering but can always bring good out of it if we let him. “Your niece,” he told that man, “I guarantee you she is on God’s lap praying for you.”

In our pride we think we have better answers. We think suffering is avoidable, and that God just has to will it to go away. But love is greater than suffering. In order to truly love, we have to have a choice. Unfortunately, our choices have resulted in great suffering in our own lives and those of others.

Thankfully, God continues to love us even when we choose to not love him. In his unconditional love, he overpowers suffering and brings good out of even the worst of it. He wants to remove any obstacle between you and him. Sometimes that obstacle is your fear of suffering. Sometimes it’s your own comfort. When we accept our suffering and give it to Christ, it is sanctifying. 

In our suffering we have the power to release people from purgatory, to offer it up for the forgiveness of sins of others and ourselves. The Cross is the way to glory. Our own crosses are our own way to glory. In Christ’s suffering, he paved the way to the Resurrection so that all our trials can be united to his and he can bring us to the Resurrection as well. Through his cross, Christ sanctified us. Now he asks us to continue that mission and sanctify the world through our suffering.

Fr. Chris Alar, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers

Father Chris Alar, MIC, is a priest with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr. Chris wrote and produced the popular “Divine Mercy 101” DVD and is the author of the soon-to-be released book After Suicide: There is Still Hope for Them and You. He is an international speaker and a regular host and guest on EWTN. He also hosts the online “Divine Mercy Matters” series at DivineMercyMatters.org. Currently he serves as “Fr. Joseph, MIC,” the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, and is the head of Marian Press, located on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

For more information about Divine Mercy and Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, visit DivineMercyMatters.org