How to Reduce or Avoid Suffering
Just like no good father forms a habit of, or enjoys punishing or suffering his good and obedient child, except for the purposes of training and correcting him in order to make him a better and happier person in future, so also God does not enjoy punishing or bringing suffering unto His holy and obedient children except for the purposes of doing some good to them for their future benefit and happiness. (Psalm 103:13)
It is true that we sometimes see good and holy people suffering, but they only make up a very small percentage of the number of such good people that exist. In fact many of them do not suffer much, as can be seen in the lives of our priests and religious living in convents and parishes. Those we see suffering are in fact the lucky few that God has picked up for special blessing and reward out of the whole lot of them. The Bible states that “NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO THE RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE”- Proverbs 12:21 and in Proverbs 16:6, it states “OBEY THE LORD AND NOTHING EVIL WILL HAPPEN TO YOU” So what we see as bad happening to them is only a blessing which will show up in future.
There are many saints today enjoying the bliss of paradise. Only a small fraction of them suffered terribly before getting there. Some of them were burnt with fire, thrown to lions to devour, beheaded, and tortured in several ways before their death. A good number of them went through mental, and emotional suffering more than the physical types of suffering mentioned above. People like Mother Theresa of Calcutta, St. Pope John Paul II, Blessed Iwene Tansi of Nigeria did not suffer as much as the apostles of Jesus or St. Stephen who was stoned to death, and St. John the Baptist who was beheaded. (Acts 7:58-60, Matthew14:8-10)
What all this points to is the fact that the best way to avoid or minimize suffering is for us to try to be good by obeying all the commandments of God and His church, summarized in showing unreserved love to our neighbor and loving God with all our hearts, minds and energy. If we do this, although suffering will still come, (since no man is free from it) yet we may be lucky to belong to the vast majority of good people who do not suffer much. The Bible confirms this in Psalm 34:12-14 where it states;“WOULD YOU LIKE TO ENJOY LIFE? DO YOU WANT LONG LIFE AND HAPPINESS? THEN HOLD BACK FROM SPEAKING EVIL AND FROM TELLING LIES. TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; STRIVE FOR PEACE WITH ALL YOUR HEART.” Proverbs 16:16 adds to this by stating as follows; “Obey the Lord and nothing evil will happen to you.” If we are lucky to be picked among the few who are holy and yet suffer severely, we should thank God for our reward will be greater in the end, for God does not take pleasure in punishing His good and obedient children except for the very few singled out for some special assignment which will bring much good to them and to others, just as our Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer to bring about salvation and forgiveness of sins for the benefit of the whole world, and for His own benefit which placed Him sitting at God’s right hand; making every knee in heaven, on earth and under the earth to bow at the mention of His holy name, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11.
From what has been explained so far, it follows that the surest way to avoid or secure freedom from suffering or sickness ( including very dreaded ones like Corona Virus) is to maintain cleanliness of body and soul. A clean soul is one that tries to please God by obeying His commandments. If in spite of doing all this, suffering or sickness still comes our way, then we should do what St. Pauls says in the Bible , and that is THANK AND PRAISE GOD. He said this because he knows that the Lord is good all the time, and brings about great good from the suffering He allows us to experience even though we are trying our best to obey His commandments and avoid doing things that hurt Him. That is why He said in Deuteronomy of the Bible( 8:16), that sometimes He purposely allows His children to suffer one thing or the other in order to test our faith so that He can now follow up with His blessing , if He discovers that we remain faithful to Him in spite of what we are suffering. This blessing can come in form of bringing a speedy end to our suffering or sickness because we have remained faithful. It can also come in many other unexpected forms that brings great happiness and relief that are capable of bringing us long life.
God never allows our suffering to overwhelm us. He sends us enough graces to enable us contain and handle them. When St. Paul had cause to complain to him about the weight of his own cross, His answer to him was – “my grace is enough for you”(2Cor. 12:9)