Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

A couple of issues ago I introduced the topic of discernment, specifically vocational discernment. In that article I stated that God has a plan for each of us. In response to that comment, I received a profoundly touching response from a reader. Essentially the reader expressed disagreement with the notion that God had a plan for their son because of the amount of suffering involved. To quote, “Bottom line, we are not sure what God’s plan is for our son. We are trying to keep the faith but it is getting harder every day.”
I am deeply grateful for the letter and wish to reply publicly to it. I have heard Archbishop Rodi say, “Today people may find it easy to believe in God, but find it very difficult to accept that God believes in them.” Especially in the midst of suffering we can often wonder how it is that God is allowing or even causing our suffering. At such times we can believe that there is some cosmic force that created us, but we find it difficult to accept that there is a personal God who loves me and cares for me personally.
There is not space here to tackle “The Problem of Evil.” Suffering is part of the human condition. It became so at the Fall of Man. I don’t like it; you don’t like it, and guess what, God doesn’t like it either. He did not intend this to be our lot, but He is careful to not violate our freedom by intervening too much. I don’t really understand how He chooses when or how to intervene, but I do trust that He loves us and intervenes as much as possible without violating our freedom. I often wonder how much suffering He has spared us. I guess we will have to wait until we meet Him face to face to find out. In the meantime, I trust that my suffering and yours is allowed by God and most importantly, His grace can transform it.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at
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