by Gareth Kieck

Is suffering fair? Why does God let us suffer?  Why does a baby die of brain cancer? Why does an innocent young man get murdered in the most brutal way when all he has done is live a life of love? Have you had these questions? Recently I have.

I had never put suffering at the top of my list of things to contemplate until recently when my cousin’s child, Emma, passed away from cancer a few months shy of her second birthday.

I had no words to console them in the beginning, all I could say was, “She is in a better place”, but what consolation is this to a family who has seen their innocent child suffer?  This led me to pray.

Prayer for me is a space where I can let go of my immediate worries and focus on those priorities which are most important. Initially I had no revelations, no ‘AHA moments’, but I continued to pray.

One day in the library at university I was sitting on the couch, staring out at Rosebank and the Common below UCT, and was praying the rosary.  This was a Friday and so the mysteries were the sorrowful mysteries.

[For those who are unsure about what these are, this is the life of where Jesus suffered – his road to calvary, which started in the Garden of Gethsemane and ended with him dying on the cross.]

As I was praying, I decided to dedicate this rosary to Emma, and on the last decade (meditation on the crucifixion) I was finally blessed with the ‘AHA moment’ I had been longing for.

While I sat there praying, I thought, “Who was this Jesus person?”

He was a young man of thirty three years who dedicated his life to loving everyone around him.  He loved the richest and the poorest.  He went out of his way to serve those that were in most need and never put himself before his friends.  He would forgive and have mercy even when his closest friends betrayed him.  He was a friend I am sure every one of us would want.  Objectively, Jesus was an amazing person.

Wouldn’t you want a person like this to live comfortably and expect the world to love him in return? I am sure many would say, “Yes, obviously.”  Well, that is not what occurred…This ‘Jesus fellow’ was rejected and betrayed by his closest friends.  He was publicly scourged at a pillar – whipping him with a belt that latched to small sharp bones.  He was then humiliated by having a crown of thorns forced into his scalp and then, although immensely weak, was forced to carry his cross up a hill in front of the entire town.  He was then nailed to a cross alongside two common criminals with his mom being there to witness it all.

But why? He was innocent! He cared so much for those around him! What did he do to deserve this? I don’t understand! This is unfair…

“Aha! It all makes sense now.”  Suffering has and always will be unfair.  Jesus was innocent – much like Emma – and he suffered unfairly just like Emma, who had to suffer with cancer when she could do nothing.  It is unfair but does it end there? Why doesn’t God do anything?

Well he does :) Jesus’ suffering shows that we are not alone even when suffering is at its deepest and darkest.  He goes a step further and rises from the dead! Yes, he conquered the worst suffering and showed that he was now where he was always meant to be – in communion with his father (perfect love).  How awesome – that when he died he could go to the place where he was always meant to be. Jesus did this to show us that this is where all our loved ones that innocently suffer go.  They don’t deserve ‘this place’, this world because it is too low class – they deserve perfection.

Eternal God in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us 

that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent

but with great confidence submit ourselves to your Holy will 

which is Love and Mercy itself.

-Divine Mercy prayer

You are loved and you are called to love those around you even when they fall.  The reason we see such beauty in people like Emma is because even when the world goes against them (or when suffering occurs) they still love everyone they encounter. Just a note about Emma – all she ever wanted us to do was smile even when on the inside her body was failing her. People like her have realised their true mission and their true goal which means they have to suffer in this world as their perfect love can never be fully appreciated in an imperfect world.

Let’s take that step each day not moaning about our suffering and feeling sorry for ourselves, but rather keeping our eyes on the mission. The mission to love no matter what suffering we encounter.  You have the ability to love like this and people like Emma remind us of that fact.

Peace and love,


About the AuthorGareth ppic

Gareth Kieck

People call me high but don’t worry that all comes from the man upstairs.  I love young people and especially working with my brothers and sisters that live humble lives on the streets.  I am currently studying at the university of Cape Town away from home surf town Warner Beach in Durban.  My mission is to let everyone know that they are beautiful and that love will always bring them home (: