The Good in Suffering Far Outweighs the Bad
By Keith Kettenring
he night before my daughter left for college, a drunk driver rammed his truck into the wall of my church office destroying furniture, books, and other treasures. After Jenna and Rhonda drove away the next morning, I went to my bedroom and bawled like a baby. I had never been so low. So much of what I loved was gone. Yet, there are certainly far worse situations humans endure these days: from innocent people trekking hundreds of miles to escape death by ISIS to a husband painfully watching his wife succumb to the torment of cancer. Suffering is everywhere. In fact, everyone suffers in some way. How are you suffering right now?
Suffering is a reality you can’t escape. Since that is the case, you can learn to accept the suffering that comes your way with these insights:
- Suffering is a basic element of life. Life is always a struggle. Suffering is all around us. Moses writes, The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble…(Psalm 90.10).
- Suffering unites you to other human beings. You relate to the suffering of others. As you help those who suffer, your lives connect. This is how you truly come alive.
Troubles are usually the brooms and shovels that smooth the road to a good man’s fortune; and many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away hunger.” St. Basil the Great (330-379)
- Suffering is a means to know God. That I may know him…and the participation of his sufferings, being made like him in his death (Philippians 3.10). Suffering is the vocation of every Christian. To love Jesus Christ is to suffer as he did.
Or doest thou wish to go a way which is especially for thee, without suffering? the way unto God is a daily cross. No one can ascend unto heaven with comfort, we know where the way of comfort leads.” St. Isaac the Syrian (613-700)
- Suffering is the path to life. Jesus did not ascend to the Father’s right hand without first being glorified through His suffering and death on the cross. In union with Christ, the Christian has the great grace to know that he or she is able to suffer, as well. Your ordinary life can be incorporated into Christ’s sufferings as you offer them up to Christ.
In place of death, God gives healing through suffering. Suffering is God’s way of healing the soul of its sinful leprosy and its death. St. Nikolai Valimirovich (1880-1956)
- Suffering is the cure for joylessness. Rejoice inasmuch as you are parktakers of Christ’s sufferings: that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4.13). Genuine Christian joy is to be discovered in sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Joy is best known in your suffering when you see Christ is suffering with you.
When suffering comes, resist the urge to make things better. Don’t try to fix anything. Sit with the suffering for there is Christ.