“The Outcome is greater than the Sacrifice”
Pastor Fr. Aaron Kuhn, Sacred Heart Church, Staples; St. Michael Church, Motley
“There is nothing ever done by God to man without the outcome being greater than the sacrifice.” This quote, passed on to me through my mother, has been a great source of consolation over the years whenever I have wrestled with God’s providence: God’s foresight to order all things according to the ends for which they were created. God adapts the means to the end, including my suffering.
In moments of suffering it can be difficult to remember that God knows and understands every element of our existence, holds it in tension with the endowed gift of human free will, and then applies grace as we allow, never taking advantage of us but co-working with us. With this comes the promise that God will bring about the greatest good even through the evil we produce. Indeed, God knows what is best for us, like good parents who coach their children into adulthood, empowering their freedom while challenging them to greatness, not removing suffering but teaching the skills to embrace it in love.
God gives each of us the capacity to choose love, or against love. When we choose love it foreshadows the divine life of heaven. When we choose against love, that is, when we do not will the good of the other for their sake, then we foreshadow hell.
God’s call to embrace suffering as a means to the obedience of divine life is counter-intuitive. “Son though he was, Christ learned obedience by what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The cross became the means to the greatest good, our salvation. The outcome was greater than the suffering.
Perhaps it was into the mystery of providence that St. Paul was leaning when he wrote, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colosians 1:24)