I have been reading through a book titled Suffering by Paul Trip. In general, this is not a topic I enjoy or want to learn more about for fear that I’ll somehow unwittingly bring some upon myself. The last sentence sounds silly, but it’s true to how I think sometimes. If left to my own choosing, I’d opt to avoid suffering in all shapes and forms. That said, suffering comes to all.
The reality is we are all:
- Coming out of some suffering
- Have a friend or family member who is going through suffering of some kind.
Here are some truths I’ve gleaned from my reading that have encouraged me or brought some level of understanding to my experiences.
- Suffering is no respecter of persons. We see this now in play as we watch the spread of the COVID-19. Rich, poor, young, and old.
- Our suffering is never just the thing we are suffering, but we also suffer the way that we’re suffering that thing. What we think of ourselves, others and life are all brought to our suffering.
- Suffering in isolation is never a good thing. We need family, friends, and community to give perspective or encouragement when we can not find it on our own.
- Suffering can make us stronger. Just like an athlete training for competition. The effort to condition or strengthen muscle is a painful process that yields a stronger you.
- Suffering reveals flaws in our character. Just observe others or yourself when in pain, how easily we lash out at those close to us.
- Fear worsens our suffering. Like fuel to a fire, fear drives us to bad places.
- No one speaks to you more than you do. Be mindful of what you are saying and correct false or harmful narratives.
I could list many more insights, but these are a few that I’ve been thinking about recently. What gives me hope and comfort in times of suffering is my relationship with Christ. I have found great joy in his word, in times of prayer, and with the fellowship of others.
There is always someone who has it harder than you. Even in suffering, there is good that you can do for others. There is far more joy when we unload our burdens and look to bear the burdens of another.