Fire and anvil

March 5, 2017

Why does God permit suffering?

God is the grand accountant. Nothing escapes his watch. He balances the account of our actions. Not a hair turns grey without his consent. But he has given us, His children, free will, out of love for us. For what value would there be in any prayer or cry or smile to God if it wasn’t authentic? Or in a kind deed done to another, if not freely?

With our free will, God will permit us to do terrible things to one another. But the ledger does not stop at the limit of this world, but continues on to the next. God is the grand accountant, and He balances the account in the end. If I have sinned against my brother, the balance sheet will reflect that. And if I wish to re-balance the account in a way that permits me to meet God in heaven, then I must repent and seek forgiveness from Him with a contrite heart, and forgive all others who have sinned against me. For the Lord the giver of life will judge me by the same standard I have used to judge others, for I am equal to the others I have judged. By what right do I judge others more harshly than myself? As I have judged others, so I will be judged, and the balance sheet will read accordingly. Should I wish the balance sheet to read favourably for me, I should therefore treat others just as favourably, and judge them just as favourably too.

As Christ told his disciples, ‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’ (Matthew 6:7-15).

This life is fire and anvil. We suffer to become better, for the life to come. Otherwise, this life is senseless grief. But there is an underlying order to life, and we can always discern it. Life is not senselessness.

This life is fire and anvil, God is the great blacksmith, and we His iron, which He shapes in His eternal wisdom into the finest instruments to bring peace and joy on earth as in heaven. All we need is a willing heart to do His perfect will.

We are wheat and chaff. He separates what is good from what is bad, and takes the good to heaven and throws the bad into hell-fire. Should we wish to join Him, while on earth or in hell, God our loving father will always take us back, His sheep, like the prodigal son. All that is needed is repentance and a contrite heart.

As Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life’ (Matthew 25:31-46).

Let no one think he is too great a sinner for the Lord our Father to take back into his fold. This is why God sent His Son Jesus Christ to work His mission before the Day of Judgment, so that through Christ’s Divine Heart of Mercy we could turn back towards God, and be taken back into the fold of His flock. Thus, Christ gives effect to the psalm:

Psalm 50(51):3-4,12-13,18-19

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.

In your compassion blot out my offence.

O wash me more and more from my guilt

and cleanse me from my sin.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

A pure heart create for me, O God,

put a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,

burnt offering from me you would refuse,

my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.

A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

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