Is Suffering God’s Plan for Us?


I was diagnosed with a chronic disease and live with it everyday. I work and help as many people as humanly possible during my time. Yet, since being diagnosed I can't help but feel afraid of dying sooner than expected or living getting worse and worse until I'm not a person but a disease. I can't feel happiness for myself anymore, and I don't feel like anything is worthwhile anymore. I feel void, afraid, lonely, and negative. I wonder what exactly God's plan was for me. I can't change anything.

—Carol , USA


Of course your situation is a difficult one, but it sounds as though you have chosen to make the most of it in one way, and that is in serving people. This is a good beginning. But what I don’t know about you is, are you on a spiritual path? Are you interested in getting to know yourself on a deeper level, and, most importantly, do you have a regular meditation practice? Regarding God’s plan for us, Ananda members follow the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, which allow us to make sense of this world we find ourselves in through communing with the higher Self, the soul within. Through the practices of our spiritual path, and the guidance of the guru, we gradually understand that God’s plan for us is that we remember our oneness in Him, and that we live in the experience of His bliss within us.

But the road back to our essential, and eternal, oneness with God is a long one. We have chosen, many lifetimes ago, to identify with and to love His creation rather than Him. We have also chosen to become attached to His creation, instead of enjoying it in remembrance of Him. These are eternal realities that every human being is part of. Still, throughout all of our wanderings, we have also, in our inner-most nature, been part of God, children of His light and love and joy. This is what prods us to keep looking for fulfillment, even though for many lifetimes we look in all the wrong places.

We are children of God in our deepest essence, not children of this world. We are also not defined by what happens to our bodies, nor to our minds and personalities. Disease may come, but it never changes who we really are. This is an understanding, and a consciousness, that we develop over time through regular and deepening meditation.

Once we finally begin to remember that deeper part of who we are, then we begin to make the choices that lead us toward true fulfillment in God.

Pain and suffering are often the ways that people take up the spiritual path in a more serious way. It doesn’t have to be that way, but suffering, either physical, mental or spiritual, is frequently the way that this process begins. The stories of the lives of the saints provide many examples of this.

A book I would recommend to you is Sister Gyanamata’s God Alone. She was the most highly advanced woman disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and lived the last 20 years of her life with a great deal of physical suffering. Her wonderful and supportive writings may help you to find a better way to relate to your present reality, and to understand how to gain from it spiritually. It can be purchased through Self-Realization Fellowship on their website:

Many blessings to you. and I hope through spiritual seeking you will find peace and the highest solutions for your situation.