Mk 4: 35-41 




This is a very difficult topic for reflection – suffering! God tells Job (Job 38) that the reason behind suffering is off limits to human intelligence. Everybody suffers. We try to remedy suffering. And yet, it still happens. And when we ask “why,” no answer is forthcoming.


Some causes of suffering are easy to see: negligence, selfishness, pride, laziness, or natural calamities. But some are just too unclear to fathom, as for instance when innocents suffer disease or oppression, or when personal disasters follow in succession rendering one helpless, or when despite our best efforts we are met with failures and disappointments. One cannot help but ask “why” because it is the question that really begs for an answer.


Faith tells us that in the world, there is a mystery of evil, a mystery of suffering, a mysterium iniquitatis. Is suffering here to purify us, to punish us, to challenge us, to frighten us, to make us cry and lose hope? It does all these, but we do not know its real purpose when it happens. It is a mystery that only God can reveal to the heart that sincerely seeks an answer.


Jesus confronts suffering in the image of the big waves that threaten the boat he and his apostles were riding (Mk 4). The apostles were afraid of shipwreck, of drowning, and of death. They forgot one thing: Jesus was with them in the boat. They were not abandoned nor neglected. God was so near and yet they held on to their fear. The Lord asked the apostles to turn to another mystery, the mystery of faith, the mysterium fidei. “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”


It is difficult to suffer. I suffered many times and in many ways too. But when the mystery of evil or suffering comes, do we pay attention to it more than to the mystery of faith? While we do not have an answer to why we suffer, we have a reason to hope in the faith that says Jesus is not absent but very close when we suffer. When we pay attention to faith more than to evil or pain, we see little things that remind us of God’s love and which strengthen us to bear the challenges of life.


Lord, life is full of the mystery of suffering, but let me cling to the mystery of faith that assures me that you are always near and that you will not abandon your children. Amen.