Simplicity eases suffering

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

Accidents happen. And when they do, we unavoidably suffer. Some days ago, the very likeable celebrity, Kobe Bryant, died in a helicopter crash, together with his basketball-loving daughter and others. The world was thrown into deep grief. Even big, strong men shed tears. That’s what accidents provoke in us.

A few days after that accident, I also had mine, though a very minor one. I broke the rear windshield of my car when I was backing up. I failed to see the tree branch that was in the way. When I heard the shattering of the glass, I inexplicably also felt shattered. I immediately knew I had a problem.

The usual instant reaction is denial. “Oh, no!” that’s what we instinctively say. And then follows a swift sigh of lamentation, as we realize what we have held dear is now lost, and all in a jiffy. Just a like that! Then we try to recover.

I believe the virtue of simplicity helps us greatly in our recovery from the pain of loss. It facilitates acceptance and puts us back on the road, so we can move on. It prevents us from falling into unnecessary worries and, God forbid, depression.

If that virtue is developed on the soil of our Christian faith, it will help us realize that accidents are still part of God’s providence, that they hold some beneficial meaning for us. Everything works for the good, we are told. (cfr. Rom 4,28) In God’s providence, nothing happens by chance, it’s up to us to realize that or not.

Simplicity helps us have a healthy sense of abandonment in God’s hands, fully trusting in his merciful and all-wise providence. Remember those beautiful, reassuring passages in the Book of Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” (3,1-2) God is always in control.

We need to develop this kind of simplicity. It fosters more faith in God. It’s not naivete. It’s not simply based on blind faith nor is it a case of fatalism. God doesn’t cause evil but allows it to happen due to our freedom and the limitations of the nature of things.

But he can always derive good from evil. And if we are with him, we can do the same. God will always have the last word, and that word will always be what’s good for us. There’s really no need to worry so much.

These truths of our Christian faith should always be in our mind and heart, so that whatever happens in our life, whether we are responsible for it or not, we can manage to survive and come out victorious and still joyful over the human suffering that accidents and other misfortunes unavoidably cause.

We have to be wary of the many elements and factors today that undermine this virtue of simplicity, and instead would lead us to get complicated in our thinking and behavior. The many advantages and conveniences that our new technologies offer, for example, can make us think that we don’t need God anymore in dealing with our issues, differences, challenges, and trials.

We have to see to it that as we immerse ourselves more deeply in the world of the new technologies, we should immerse ourselves even more deeply in God, seeing to it that our prayer life is vibrant, our recourse to the sacraments continues, our spirit of sacrifice grows even more generously.

We have to be wary of developing a false sense of entitlement that the new technologies can occasion in us. This cuts us from God and undermines the basic virtue of simplicity.