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Responding to the will of God, suffering

By Sean Martin
John Paul II Generation

Like many others within the Siouxland area, I, too, have been affected by the flooding. And like many others, I have been frustrated, upset, and hurt by this natural disaster. I received a phone call from my wife while I was at our Diocesan Totus Tuus Teacher Training that was held at Corpus Christi in Fort Dodge. She explained to me what was happening where we were residing in Dakota Dunes, and what the emergency management officials were telling everyone. After many discussions between us and others and much prayer over the next day or so, we decided that we needed to immediately move our family and all our belongings to higher ground. This was a very difficult decision to make on many levels. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but we both think it was the best decision that we could have made at the time. It was made very apparent from the moment we made the decision that the Lord’s hand was present in all of it. We were able to rent a moving truck and we were generously offered a place to stay in a matter of hours from when we decided to move. Through many confirmations, it seems to me this move was the will of God.

How do we know the will of God in our lives? What should our response be toward the will of God?
The first thing we need to do to understand and know the will of God is to pray and ask the Lord what His will is for us. Jesus said to pray and ask for God’s will to be done. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Next, we must discern what we think the Lord is saying to us. We should consult others and seek out the spiritual advice of those that are wise and prudent. Lastly, we should surrender to the will of God. This by no means is an easy task all the time, but very necessary. We may not want to always want to accept God’s will for us because it may mean giving up this or that, but in the end if we follow God’s will, we will be more joyful and peaceful than if we hadn’t accepted His will.

Why do bad things happen to good people?
I recently heard in a homily a priest give a great simple answer to the common age old questions: why is their evil in the world and why do bad things happen to good people? Suffering is ultimately the result of sin entering the world, but the answer the priest offered in his homily was that God will bring about a greater good through the evil and suffering. God promises us more blessings now, than before the fall of Adam. This is why the priest prays at the beginning of the Easter Vigil Liturgy “‘O happy fault [O necessary sin of Adam] which gained for us so great a Redeemer’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 412).

What should our response be to suffering?
The Lord is sovereign, He reigns over us. Ultimately, no matter what we think or do, God is in charge over our lives. We are called to embrace our suffering and offer it up to the Lord as a prayer. Our response to suffering should be the same as Job’s response, in all things we should praise and bless the name of the Lord. "Naked I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

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