Suffering is a motif for life because it takes us to death — beyond worship of ourselves or other things besides God — and forces us to accept the untenable life. This is a complete loss of living control. Anyone subsumed in this form of deathly life is, paradoxically, and ultimately, blessed.
Yes, it is, therefore, blessed to suffer unequivocally.
To have some such period — or the whole journey, via some way — with God as emissary — is the deprival of individualistic sense; accompaniment to heaven.
By Process – Periods of Suffering
Dying for life is the hope of God in the pit of despair, if God is reached out for.
Suffering has intense spiritual and theological meaning, but only if we respond the way God knows we can. This is to submit the calamity of our suffering to our Lord.
The process is one of not running from the pain but drawing close to it with God.
Yes, this way we can glory in our suffering as we jettison the self-concept devoid of the pain.
How long this process takes is up to the Lord, and our task, should we choose to accept and grow through it, is to continue patiently submitting our prayers to God. These prayers are always heard.
There is good biblical precedent for lengthy (Psalm 13:1-2) and lifetime suffering (2 Corinthians 12:8), so we’re in fine company!
By Outcome – Having Suffered but Overcome
Much suffering — for example, grief — is confined to periods. When we consider that all of us will one day, soon, ‘fly away’ we’ll also know that the rest of non-periodic suffering is temporal, though these are ‘life sentences’.
Lifetime conditions may seem tragic, but our time will be up sooner than most of us wish.
The promise of receipt on the other side of suffering is a new definition of life — indeed, a new identity — a better ‘us’.
To overcome is meaning for life.
Embracing Times of ‘Death’
The best thing about such totalitarian suffering is we don’t get a choice about it. A less forthright suffering we can escape — our sin will allow it. Inappropriate coping measures are employed.
But not so with suffering that blindsides us.
When life is swept away, and we can’t believe how bad things are, we go to God without question; we just can’t do it under our own steam. This is a form of embracing, for we’re accepting something we cannot change, by strange virtue of choicelessness.
Dying, by adverse possession, is the ironical process taking us to a life we’d not know otherwise.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: Why Pain and Suffering?