We come now to The Imitation of Christ, Book II, Chapter IX: “Of the Lack of All Consolations.” Here Thomas à Kempis deals with the challenges the sincere Christian encounters when both human and divine consolations are not to be found in their lives. One important aspect of this the author states above: temptation and tribulation come in order to prove our faithfulness to God, to strengthen our faith, and to humble us — we can’t get through this life without divine assistance.
Today’s first reading (Acts 5:34-42) gives us the wise Rabban (great rabbi) Gamaliel addressing his fellow members of the Sanhedrin telling them to have nothing to do with the disciples of Jesus that they had just rounded up. With great insight he plainly admonishes them all that since the leader of these men has been killed, their movement will amount to nothing if it was man-made. But if it came from God…
Finding this worthy advice, this religious body decided to flog their “guests,” tell them to not preach about Jesus, and send them on their way. The apostles’ reaction is captured in the headline. And, of course, they immediately began preaching again.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24)
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mk 10:29-30)
Trials, temptations, tribulations, and sufferings will come. As you just read, our Lord promised as much to His faithful followers. Do we rejoice in these difficulties, realizing they bring us closer to the Father as we unite these with His Son?
The definitive answer to the problem of the evil of suffering is that Almighty God brings a greater good from it. Whether that is evident immediately after, at some future time in this life, or at the Second Coming, we can be confident that this is the case.
God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist. —
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)
The Whipping of St. Peter (1998-2000) by Hermenegild Peiker