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The questions of why the sufferings in the world, why do bad things
happen to good people, why is evil in a world created by a good God
are perennial questions. Globally, the problems people are passing
through seem to be a thorn in the flesh of men, many have thought of
giving up. It is no longer news that deaths recorded globally are on the
increase since the year 2020. Many parts of the world suffered much
and are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

In Nigeria, the COVID-19 has increased the sufferings of people.
People are yet to recover from the shock, prices of goods in the market
increased threefold of what they were previously got in the markets,
even keep increasing daily. Many people have nothing doing and
people are being murdered on daily bases. These keep people
wondering if there is still hope for the common man. Truly, people are
suffering. Could it be that humanity has been cursed especially in this
part of the world? Sometimes, suffering is regarded as punishment by
many, whereas, some others conceive it to be a prelude to victory. It
seems to be attached to the nature of man, but he makes frantic efforts
to alienate himself from severe sufferings. One of the virtues man holds
unto while suffering is hope, in the sense that he anticipates without
knowing what the future has in stock for him. However, St. Paul holds:
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth
comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us… for the creation
was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one
who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its
bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the
children of God… for in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is
not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we
do not see, we wait for it with patience. (cf. Romans 8:18, 20-21, 24-

In attempting to address the current situation of things globally,
especially in our Nigerian society where people suffer more ranging
from the fear of diseases and death to nepotism, hunger, bad
governance, lack of job opportunities and excessive increase in the
price of commodities which submerged many to suffering and hoping
that things will get better, the Bigard Theological Studies (BTS) in Vol.
42 No. 1 edition of her journal hinges on Suffering and Hope. We wish
to let the world know that suffering is not necessarily a sign of doom.
God is found where people are suffering, where people are dying, where people are almost despairing. He is there to supply courage, strength
and hope while waiting patiently for the time of restoration of joy and
happiness. Let us not grow weary in suffering, bearing Christ in mind,
who saved humanity through suffering.

In our theological and philosophical investigations into the exigencies
of suffering and hope, Fr. Hilary in his article Suffering and Hope,
began by letting us know that suffering came as punishment for sins
through our first parents Adam and Eve, but God in His infinite love
and mercy gave humanity hope of redemption through one of their
progenies. He also made us know that enduring suffering with hope
reduces stress, increases our happiness and improves the quality of life.

Fr. Emmanuel Anagwo as an ecclesiastical mouth-piece in his article
Adopting New Ways of Celebrating the Word of God in a Pandemic
Era, advises us not to shut ourselves away from the Word of God in the
midst of our sufferings, rather we should always open-up to the Word
of God which gives us hope amidst our sufferings, through imbibing on
various means which the Church presents to us in keeping constant
touch with the Word of God which reassures hope and gives us life.

Man cannot survive on earth if he operates on the level of ‘I alone’. He
needs to learn from his environment. Fr. Kingsley Anagolu buttresses
this point in his Inauguration Lecture for 2021/2022 Academic and
Formation Year of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu made it clear
that Learning or Education is an encounter man has with his
environment in which he encounters God, Time and other human
beings and with his own very self. He operates on ‘I and Thou’
relationship according to Martin Buber. This makes him grow to full
maturity and self-discovery, as such, be able to endure sufferings,
hoping for a better future.

Fr. Damian Udechukwu in his article The Catholic Church and the
Use of Images clarifies us on the original command given to the
Israelites by God concerning worship of images. God is not so to say,
against the making and use of images in worships, rather he abhors
worshipping those images, for he gave them instructions to make
images in various scriptural instances shown in this article. The
Catholic Church also does not worship images found in our church
buildings, homes and working places. The images are meant to allow
us focus on the invisible Being (God) we are conversing with. We
honour the Saints through their images, we do not worship them.

Though we may be passing through crucibles of life, we should also
bear in mind that some of these hard experiences shape us into what we
are to be. Constantine Okoli in his Book Review on the Short Life of
Bishop Shanahan, C.S.Sp. points out the various environmental
challenges Bishop Shanahan experienced in his father land, Ireland, but
those difficulties did not force or convince him to give up his life
dreams. He braced up and continued until he attained his dreams. That
was why he was able to survive his missionary challenges in Nigeria
and became a great man the Church in Southern part of Nigeria will
never forget in the annals of history. This is a reminder to all who suffer
today, to do it with hope and never despair.

It is required of us to be strong in whatever situation we find ourselves
in. Each of us is destined to bear a cross which we should carry while
making our life journey. In the same vein, we ought to know that
inasmuch as each is destined to a cross of life, no one was given the
special function of constructing crosses for others to carry. Let us be
true witnesses to authentic Christian living.

Clement Obasi