There are those who justify suffering as part of what contributes to making strong character. Many fine writers have written from this viewpoint ”that there is value in the troubles, sorrows and traumas we encounter.
The German playwright, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is said to have said, “I never had an affliction which did not turn into a poem.” I am of the opinion that much of the world’s literature, even humor, has come through suffering.
Another writer has expressed it this way: “Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart of joy.” As Paul Billheimer says in his book, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, it is true that sorrow has its compensations.
Billheimer goes on to say that the rewards are but the tip of the iceberg to the many more blessings that can be fathomed. This in no way elevates our suffering to blessedness or makes us saint-like beings. Far from it.
“The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” This is the truth as the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in the church at Corinth.
A good example is the experience of the farmer, Job. Probably the earliest written book in our Bible, Job is a great success for many years until God permits him to be overwhelmed with all kinds of disasters. At the end of the story Job is restored better than before.
God sees value in things we cannot understand. Suffering, like many subjects in the Bible and in our lives, remains a mystery.
Oswald Chambers, a British colonial chaplain in Egypt when England ruled there, says: “Why shouldn’t we go through heartbreaks? If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.”
Success seems to be the god of these times. And if a person is successful, feels blessed and strives to keep what he has while honestly working for more, that’s good. But, if it all dissolves in an instant, a lifetime of work vanishes, the suffering is immense.
In many of our lives, the times have not been as bad as they are today. There are the homeless, who are almost invisible to us, and there are more of them than ever. It is a tragic report that many of the homeless are military veterans. Some have been that way since Vietnam. Percentage-wise, more of them are from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
There are those cheated by Enron-types (a name that will always be connected to evil ”Did you notice how fast the Houston Astros baseball team changed the name of their park from Enron to Minute Maid?).
Bernard Madoff. Just the name makes us think of crooks. Such characters should be exposed earlier. Those who knew and kept silent are just as guilty. Their suffering does not compare to what the people they cheated out of life savings continues to be.
The train wrecks caused by sorrow and grief must be accepted as the dark side of life. Brokenness and failure need not have the final word. “Men (apparently) love the darkness rather than Light,” the Apostle John tells us. But coming to the Light is doing what is right.
Consider: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed …” (Romans 8:18). The parts of the mystery necessary for growing beyond suffering are in God, and available to all who will listen ”and heed.
Britt Towery writes a journal daily at www.towerytales.blogspot.com.