Whatis the meaning of suffering? IfGod is good and loving, how could He allow suffering, pain, and sadness? Mostpeople would say that it is just a punishment, but there in fact is a deeper meaningto it. To suffer, one must be experiencingor be subjected to something bad or unpleasant (“suffer”. Dictionary.comUnabridged.
Random House, Inc.) Suffering is happening all around us and itseems that no one knows what to do with it or how to take in the true meaning.I too, found myself questioning the presence of suffering. That age oldquestion would cross my mind daily, especially when watching the news. Instudying the texts and lectures provided to me through the teachings of myprofessor, Dr. Judith Gentle, I was able to take on a whole new perspective towhat it means to suffer. Life seems to force you to deal withtranscendence, spiritually.
People seem to think that they have the answer tothat ‘why’ question, but the true key holder to the answer is in God himself.Most people seem to either miss the meaning entirely or perceive it in only a negativelight. When a person is experiencing suffering, they are only dealing with the hurtand pain of it. Sometimes it is extremely hard to provide reason or rhyme towhat is truly happening. There is not a simple answer to suffering, but thereare many ways to approach pain if one is open to accepting the very power ofit.
At some point in life, everyone will experience suffering, and without anopen mind or the proper knowledge of why, one is liable to miss the link thatconnects God to us. God may allow suffering, but He does notcommand it upon any one. God has created all human beings to be free to choosewhatever path man should want to take, whether it be evil or righteous. But, inunderstanding this, one must know that God has the ability to bring forwardgreat things, visions, and outcomes from suffering alone.
The Bible in itselfoffers an array of different situational examples of suffering. Not only doesit provide these types of situations, it also reveals a number of possiblereasons to why our God would allow it. God was able to use the evil of Joseph’sbrothers selling him into slavery to bring about the good of saving the peopleof Israel. He also allowed St. Paul to be thrown into jail, but Paul said itoffered him the chance to proclaim Jesus (Philippians 1:13). In biblical terms,this would be referred to as “You reap what you sow.” (http://bulldogcatholic.org/whats-the-meaning-of-suffering)Suffering has the power to wake one up spiritually.
In the great words of C.S.Lewis, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to.God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shoutsto us in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
” We can also use our time of suffering to lookinward. We live in a fallen world where we are all in need of a Savior, andthat’s just what God provided. God loved us so much that He sent His Son, JesusChrist, to die for our sins so we can live forever in heaven. Alsoremember that because Christ suffered, He understands what we’re going throughand has compassion on us. Christ not only gives us hope when we trust in Him,but helps us through hard times by comforting us in our grief, surrounding uswith supportive people and allowing us to feel His presence in our lives.Now, It may seem like suffering is anaction which God allows in order to awaken you to something great, spirituallyconnecting one to God, but having arelationship with God doesn’t mean we won’t suffer.
Sin affects any andeveryone, no matter your age, race, or religion, and because of that, we allexperience pain and hardship. The difference-maker in suffering for people whohave a relationship to God is that God promises to be with those who trust inHim. “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers himfrom them all” (Psalm 34:19). God is with us through all the difficult times that weface so we don’t have to face them alone. We can lean on Him because we willhave enough wisdom to know He cares for us and will help us through any sorrow,grief or frustration we are dealing with.
That gives one hope because even whenwe don’t understand the whys, we know that in God, his wisdom is immeasurable. Hecan strengthen our faith or work things out behind the scenes that we don’t seeor understand. Suffering also allows us to help others in similar situationsand pass on the hope that we have in Christ.
Though experiencing and watching suffering isnot something that is easy or appealing to the heart/ mind, the benefits areincredible. Both to the witness of it and the one suffering. Suffering is ateacher. It shakes things up and is one of the great reinforcers of some of theworld’s greatest changes. Pain can and has brought about the wisdom that manypeople have to pass on to other. The impact of observing suffering and theeffects that it may have on the caregivers, family members, and other lovedones can also do the same thing that it is doing for the actual personexperiencing suffering.
It can cause them to look inside themselves and startto self-reflect on their own lives, their own spirituality and gratefulness fortheir relationship with their Higher Power. It can also create other’sacknowledgement of inner life issues and purpose. While all of these thingssound great, suffering may also cause anger and cause many questions about lifeand God himself.
For the individuals that have these questions, having an openmind and understanding to all that suffering could mean would be a greatapproach for them; because anger towards God will not create anything but moreanger and frustration. Not to sound like I am taking any non-believersfrom their own personal thoughts and ideas on it, my opinion on the teachingsof why suffering exists is only offering a different approach to the sufferingthat one might want to open their mind to when they find themselves frustrated andunable to grasp an understanding. Can you imagine where you would be in life ifyour parents did not allow you to go out and make your own mistakes to learnfrom…? You may never have even known how to maneuver this earth without havinggained your very own wisdom to keep you safe and on the right path. If you haveever remembered hearing your parents say to you, “You may not understand why Iam telling you or doing this to you now, but believe me, In the long run…It isfor your own good!,” I guess you can relate this saying to suffering and thewords of our Father. In suffering, you may not see what good it is doing in thenow, but farther along the road, that very same ‘act’ will be used as ateaching tool for you to remember growth and wisdom.
You may also even use thatwisdom gained through suffering as a teaching tool for others. The whole human experience would beimpossible without suffering.