Catholic evangelist Jeff Cavins, seen here signing autographs in Marlton, has some coping advice for those who are suffering: Entrust yourself to God; go to Confession; study the saints; think of others and pray the Rosary. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photo
Catholic evangelist Jeff Cavins, seen here signing autographs in Marlton, has some coping advice for those who are suffering: Entrust yourself to God; go to Confession; study the saints; think of others and pray the Rosary. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photo

Jesus, Biblical scholar Jeff Cavins believes, is the key to showing all how to live a full life.

“Suffering is personal. It isn’t objective. It’s subjective,” he said, stressing that many tend to spend most of their time “putting up with life” rather than living life fully.

Often, many question why a God who loves his people would let them go through heavy sorrow, Cavins continued. There is a view that love equals taking pain away, but that is not true, he said, using parenting as an example. Parents can’t keep their children from ever feeling pain or hurt, despite loving them fully and unconditionally.

To understand suffering, one needs only to look at Jesus and the price he paid for loving humanity, he said.

Cavins, a renowned Catholic evangelist and author, spoke on his new book – “When You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and Understanding” – during an October presentation in St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Marlton.

During the presentation, Cavins quoted from the apostolic letter “Salvifici Doloris,” written by Pope John Paul II. In it, the Holy Father talks about two kinds of suffering – physical and moral, both of which Jesus experienced. Cavins said most people would rather experience physical suffering than that of the heart, which can be caused by factors such as betrayal, gossip, job loss. He also talked about temporal, or earthly suffering, and the definitive suffering of being in total darkness without God, love or understanding.

Pain and suffering, he said, are unavoidable. Instead, the end goal is not to escape pain, but to offer it up to God.

“In your suffering, you have an amazing coin that can purchase what can’t be bought,” Cavins said. He pointed out that Pope John Paul II wrote that even one’s suffering is redeemed.

Cavins shared his own stories, one of battling melanoma and another of going through a long bout with chronic pain. After months of suffering, he began to realize that he could make something out of suffering and offered it up to God. Immediately, he felt an incredible joy in his heart.  “That night I could say, ‘I know how you love me.’”

Cavins’ presentation, which was sponsored by the diocesan Department of Catholic Cemeteries, was all too familiar for the some of the 400 in attendance. Dolores Humphrey, who is recovering from the sudden loss of her daughter two years ago, said Cavins’ mention of “dying to self” struck a chord.

“Where I struggle the most is too much self,” the St. Joan of Arc parishioner said. “It is a choice. I could give up, or I could not understand and be angry, but know that he will help me through it.”

Cavins encouraged his audience to take away an important lesson from the evening. “You’re going to walk out with a coin of great value you didn’t know you had,” he said. “And you can play that coin. You’re going to be OK.”