Friday, January 11, 2013

Suffering

I have a serious complex about suffering.  I don't like it.  Not that anybody really does, but I just get hung up on it.  Usually with regard to someone else, but all too frequently I can get in a nice selfish tizzy about my own suffering.

Everybody suffers mild and major problems, pretty much on a daily or even hourly basis.  Some are minor such as stubbing our toe or being mocked by someone who we don't even care about, and some are major like terminal illness or the loss of loved ones.  And there is everything in between.  Sometimes we do it to ourselves, as in the case of my sore arm muscles from lifting weights.  A more serious example might be any health consequences for poor choices.  Sometimes bad things happen that we did not personally cause, like if I was hit by a drunk driver on the way home one night.  And perhaps worst of all are sufferings that occur to those who did nothing to deserve the pain or even deserve any suffering at all as they are totally innocent, like babies.

On the whole, society strives against suffering.  We research in all sorts of fields, make laws in all sorts of areas, and work all the time to eliminate suffering.  Of course we are all called to reduce suffering and do what we can to help those afflicted with any kind of distress.  I think our problem, and I know my problem, is we want to make suffering go away entirely.  We'd like it if we could find some way to eliminate pain and suffering from our experience as humans.  This difference between what we want and what we clearly cannot have causes me a lot of stress.

If the wages of sin is death, and everyone sins, then suffering and death are inevitable.  There's no escaping it.  There's nothing to be done about it.  We might fix one medical problem but will always have another.  We might feel better about a relationship one day but have it cause pain the next.  No matter what we do, we will always grow older and die.  And no matter how much we hope and pray against it, bad things will continue to happen to for no apparent reason to people we know and love.

You'd think the knowledge of this inevitable state of life would make me take a more balanced, logical approach.  But no, I still strive against the idea of suffering.  It bothers me so much that if someone else is suffering, I'll suffer too in loss of sleep.  Suffering really bugs me.


I was reading this morning and reflected on the fact we can get so hung up on the suffering we experience here.  We spend so much time thinking about it, fearing it, and avoiding it.  And yet, it is not the most important suffering we have to worry about.  What is our time in suffering here compared to eternity?  Not much at all.

What kind of suffering would be worse?  Eternal suffering.  Spending all of eternity suffering, without hope, and without chance of escape.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(Joh 3:14-17)

Jesus is the way out of eternal suffering.  All of us have sinned, and are deserving of the suffering we endure here and the suffering we would experience in hell as we have fallen short of the glory of God.  This suffering we fear and experience and struggle with now is nothing in comparison to the suffering Jesus has saved His believers from.


It really puts suffering we experience now into a different perspective.

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