Trials of Life

by | Jul 31, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

There is an interesting conversation between St. Vincent and St. Louise which I read many years back in a book about St. Vincent. The topic of conversation was,” why God allows sufferings in our life?”. Vincent tells to Louise, that “God can be compared to a sculptor who makes a beautiful statue out of a stone by chiseling it”. He compares the sufferings and trials of life to this action of chiseling. The purpose is to make something beautiful from us. But Louise tells to Vincent that “at times the stones do break while they are being chiseled”. To this Vincent replies that “such stones never will become statues”.

St. Vincent’s view of suffering is in line with what St. James in his letter says about the purpose of trials and testing in our life. “Testing of faith produces endurance and endurance leads us to be complete and mature, lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:2-4).

Victor Frankl in his famous book, “Will to Meaning” speaks about finding meaning in suffering. According to him, if there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Many people are disappointed when they see that things didn’t turn out in their life as they expected. To them he says; it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

The Bible presents Job as the prototype of the man who struggles to find meaning for suffering. The words of “wise” men could not help him and he wanted to speak with God face to face. So he says to his friends; Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God (Job13:1-3).

When he turns to God, he realizes the truth, that there are many things which the human mind cannot grasp. Job when he realizes this humbles himself before God and says; I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know (Job 42:3)

It is our faith in Jesus alone that will give us the full meaning of suffering in our life. In Jesus our suffering and death has a meaning. So to face the trials and sufferings of life we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and his cross, as he during his life -journey on earth “fixed his eyes to Jerusalem”; which was his place of suffering, death and resurrection.

About the Author:

fr-binoyFr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania.  In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania. He currently lives in Barakaldo (Spain), and is a teacher in the Masters in Vincentian Studies.