The Meaning of Suffering

A difficult aspect of bereavement is the persistent question of “Why?  Why me?  Why her?  Why suffer?” The Church has some wonderful words of comfort regarding the meaning of suffering and how to relate our suffering to the rest of our journey to Heaven.

 

Salvifici Doloris
by Bl. Pope John Paul II

In 1984, Pope John Paul II wrote “Salvifici Doloris,” the definitive document on the meaning of suffering and the redemptive power that our time on Earth offers to us. For an understanding on how we share in the suffering of Christ on the cross and our obligation to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when they suffer, this document is a helpful read. For an excellent analysis and interpretation of this document, see Robert Schroeder's book, John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering.

  Making Sense out of Suffering
by Peter Kreeft

For another, more narrative, take on the meaning of suffering, Peter Kreeft offers an excellent look at understanding how suffering can exist in the same universe as an All-powerful and infinitely good God. Peter speaks to his reading audience in a conversational and friendly form, making his points easy to follow and his book easy to enjoy.

  The Problem of Pain
by C. S. Lewis

No discussion of suffering would be complete without C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, The Problem of Pain. Heralded as a great Christian work for decades, he delves into the often painful subject matter of the existence of evil in this world. For a proper understanding with deep apologetic reflection from a Christian perspective, C.S. Lewis is a great choice.