Skip links

“Suffering has the power to transform us to be like Christ…”

All of us suffer. We live in a fallen world, and suffering is simply a part of life. This suffering can take many forms, and we are all affected differently by it.

But why do we suffer at all? How are we to understand suffering? Is there any purpose to it? And what are we to do with the suffering we face?

Suffering: What Every Catholic Should Know is the latest volume in the What Every Catholic Should Know series, published by Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute. Other volumes include Being CatholicLiteratureSalvationThe BibleGodPhilosophy, and Mercy.

In Suffering, Dr. Mark Giszczak ably tackles one of the most difficult topics not just in the Catholic faith, but in theism: why does God allow suffering, and what are we to do with it? This is a particularly appropriate topic during the season of Lent, when we are pondering in a special way the sufferings of Jesus, and the salvation He accomplished through His Passion, death, and resurrection.

Dr. Giszczak is Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology, specializing in Old Testament Wisdom Literature, as well as biblical theology and Catholic biblical interpretation.

He recently spoke with Catholic World Report about his new book, the problem of suffering, and how Catholics are called to unite their sufferings with those of our Lord.

CWR: How did the book come about?

Mark Giszczak: This book started as a course I taught called “The Theology of Suffering.” Suffering, of course, is universal. Everybody suffers. But I was interested in working on this topic from a theological angle since I had seen that a little bit of theological thinking about it could go a long way.

So many professions–from medicine to psychology to entertainment–are dedicated to relieving suffering, but I wanted to explain what to do when all the therapeutic options have been exhausted. When my suffering cannot be taken away, what then?

CWR: The book is part of the What Every Catholic Should Know series. Why is suffering a topic that every Catholic should be educated in?

Kiszczak: Everyone experiences sufferings, so everyone should know about it. Sadly, I think many people just try to avoid the topic, but life does not let us get off so easy. When we run from suffering, it will eventually chase us down and find us. So, if suffering is inevitable, then maybe we should look it in the face rather than run from it. Jesus even calls us to “take up our cross” and follow after him. But how? How do we do that? In this book, I try to explain how Christian life is truly “cross-shaped.” We are meant to experience both suffering and joy at the same time.

CWR: Why is the “problem of suffering” a question that incessantly plagues humanity?

Giszczak: The “problem of suffering” is perennial because suffering is confusing. In the book, I take a whole chapter to discuss how suffering disorients us. As humans, we are problem-solvers, but suffering is not a problem that can be “solved.” That’s frustrating. Suffering feels like punishment, but typically is not actual punishment, just pain.

When we suffer, we often feel like something has gone wrong with the universe, but that’s not the case: God is still in control and he is good. Giving up on “solving” suffering can help us adopt the right attitude of seeking to grieve over losses and arrive at a place of acceptance and peace.

Read more at Catholic World Report 

Share with Friends: