Is suffering a punishment for Original Sin?
It is a consequence. When a child puts his hand into the flames, the hand gets burned.
God lets us stew in the cesspools of suffering in the valley of tears.
God tweaked the timetable for the delivery of his gifts. He inserted a delay. The gift of life and the gift of paradise were delivered to Adam and Eve simultaneously - no delay. For the children of Adam and Eve, however, God inserted a delay between the delivery of the gift of life and the delivery of the gift of paradise. During the delay, we get to taste for ourselves the sourness of godlessness (Godlessness).
When God delivers to us the gift of paradise, God wants us to keep it. He wants us to keep it without having to turn paradise into a prison, himself into our warden and us into prisoners. He does not want us to repeat the original sin of our parents, Adam and Eve. He does not want us to opt out of paradise as Eve opted out, as Adam opted out, as Lucifer opted out and as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer opted out. Having tasted the pig sty for himself, the prodigal son will never go back there. Neither will we.
Furthermore, letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness proves to us that the serpent was a liar and that God was telling us the truth (Godlessness). Godlessness is not all that the serpent said it would be. A taste of the sourness of godlessness shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. When the illusions are shattered, we are set free. Our rationality instructs us to pick up the roots we have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness and to flee - to head for the exits of godlessness.
Letting us stew is not punishment. It is harsh but effective medicine.
God takes no joy in the harshness of the medicine.
In fact, God took a number of measures to ameliorate the harshness of the medicine - to lessen its sting.
He made life brief. Life is an infinitesimally thin slice of time when we compare it to the thickness of eternity. The brevity of life is proof of the mercy of God.
Furthermore, God took notice of the difficulty we were having as we pass through the boiling cauldrons of suffering in this valley of tears. God took pity on us. In the fullness of time, God revealed to us the secret of passing through suffering. We did not know how to suffer so the Son of God himself paid us a visit to teach us. He passed through the boiling cauldron of suffering himself to show us the secret of how to do it.
What is the secret?
He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go as we baptized him in the boiling cauldron of pain and suffering. He clung with the iron grip of the drowning man who clings to a life preserver in the stormy sea after his ship has sunk.
Love is the life preserver. Cling as Jesus clung. When we cling to love, the Cross does not bury us. We can pick it up. We can carry it. Cling as Jesus clung. Hold tight and refuse to let go. This is the secret hanging in plain sight from the Cross.
Suffering tends to extinguish love. The tendency is powerful. However, it is a tendency that is more destructive to you than the Cross you are carrying. Therefore, deny yourself. Do not heed your natural inclination. With the help of God, fight the tendency. Refuse its urgings. Do not let go. Like the serpent, it is trying to steer you in the wrong direction. It is giving you instructions that contradict your self-interest. Your natural inclination is lying to you. You are worse off not better off when you yield to it. Your welfare depends on clinging to love and refusing to let go.
The evil we did to him ought to have, at the very least, pissed him off. It ought to have antagonized him. It ought to have earned us a place on his shit list. It ought to have provoked his natural instinct for justice. It ought to have triggered his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. It ought to have transformed him into our enemy - into a misanthropic monster - into the God who hates us. It ought to have shifted God from the pro-human team to the anti-human team with the serpent and his minions. When the fuse is lit, the bomb ordinarily explodes. But, remarkably, it did not. The fuse worked but the bomb was a dud (Isaiah 55:8-9). The evil we did to him did not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree (Isaiah 55:8-9). He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. God let us get away with murder - with deicide (Isaiah 55:8-9). Such is the nature of God The King! Wow! Our God is a beneficent philanthropist not a misanthropic monster. This is the good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.
Yes, God knows that letting us stew in suffering generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. It causes many of the children of Adam and Eve to shake their fists and rail against God. The harshness of the medicine even causes them to deny the existence of a loving God. The effectiveness of the medicine, however, justifies its harshness in the eyes of God.
Lastly, God provided us with a back door - an escape hatch - a shortcut around the cesspools of suffering that dot the landscape of the valley of tears as sand dots the surface of a seashore. In his mercy, God pulled the cord to start an alternative engine to the sourness of godlessness. The sourness of godlessness is the engine that pushes the children of Adam and Eve to the exits of godlessness. For a time since the fall (Godlessness), the sourness of godlessness was the only engine. It is no longer the only engine. The Son of God paid us a brief visit of about thirty-three years at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. One of the purposes of his visit was apocalypse - revelation. He paid us a visit to show us the sweetness of paradise. The sweetness of paradise is the engine that pulls the children of Adam and Eve to its entrance.
The sourness of godlessness pushes us to its exit. The sweetness of paradise pulls us to its entrance. But there is gap between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness. How does the gap get bridged? How do we make that "great leap from time to eternity" (Our Lady of Good Success)?
Jesus put himself between the world of godlessness and the world of paradise. He is the way, etc. (John 14:6). He is the bridge between godlessness and paradise. Rational people, when the illusions are shattered, their eyes are opened and the sweetness of paradise and sourness of godlessness is visible to them, pull up the roots they have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness and make their escape on the escape route from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. They become pilgrims instead of settlers. It is against their self-interest to do otherwise.
The sourness of godlessness is the stick. The sweetness of paradise is the carrot. The strategy behind God's rescue plan is simple carrot and stick. The sourness of godlessness is sufficient to rescue us. The sweetness of paradise is sufficient to rescue us. Both engines are more than sufficient. God's rescue plan has both belt and suspenders. Let me suggest that if you hitch your wagon to the belt that the suspenders won't be necessary. The more the sweetness of paradise pulls you, the less push you need from the sourness of godlessness. Therefore, it behooves us to hitch our wagon to the Star of Bethlehem and Calvary - and I am not referring to a celestial body in the sky.