Insights On Suffering

FROM LEWIS, A GRIEF OBSERVED

He first published it under another name, so as not to hurt anyone who loved his writing. The response to it changed his mind.

“You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears…”

“The time where there is nothing at all inside except your cry for help is just the time when God can’t answer it…”

“The door doesn’t open, unless you knock; it also doesn’t open if you try too desparately, too frantically, to rip it off its hinges…”

“You can’t rescue a drowning man until he’s given up…”

FROM GERALD SITTSER, A GRACE DISGUISED

Face the pain, without being consumed by it; integrating the horror of loss with the passage of living.

A stance toward pain: The stump remains of the tree you lost. But now, grass is growing around it, flowers, patio stones and beauty. Though… the stump remains.

FROM PETER FITCH, LEARNING TO SUFFER WELL

Your pain becomes a platform for further growth.

Your soul has the capacity to grow, to absorb both pain and joy as its fuel.

“Pain, if it is faced and not idolized, provides a context for the deepening of the soul.”

There is a time in suffering, when pain can become the idol.

3 Assumptions

1. Life is often hard.

2. God wants to help.

3. Our response matters.

In real suffering, you don’t have the luxury of pat answers. Empathy helps, but the “unknowing” is the gift you bring — your knowledge can sometimes hurt your ability to help.

The power of unknowing is a tremendous tool to carry with you as a warrior-monk.

Both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit are available to us in these matters. The Spirit is “Parakletos,” the “one who comes alongside. “Para” means “along side of.” Klete is from kaleo, which means “to call.” Paraclete was the title of a defense lawyer in Jesus’ day – a Comforter and support.

Ad/vocate: (latin), ad means “to,” vocate is from vocare, “call.”

1 John 2:1-2 – “…if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate….” In this case, Jesus is the one called alongside.

2 Cor. 1:3-8, “comfort,” a form of “paraklesis” is used 10 times – the Father of all “paraklesis.” The Father is the one called alongside.

The nature of God is to come to the place of brokenness, and an honest cry for help, to run like water to the lowest place.

If God’s nature is to come, then times of ministry are easy. God will rush to that place. Our job is to create an access point.

Biblically, suffering comes from evil, from our response to evil, from our society’s response to evil, from God’s judgement, and from our participation in Christ’s sacrifice as we enter into the suffering in the world. We live in a war zone.

Possible benefits of suffering: perseverance, character, hope, humility (a lack of glibness in speech)

We’re always looking to the end of suffering, when we must learn to find God within it. Why? Because there is more suffering in your future on planet earth.

Suffering comes in fits and starts.

It’s easy to be good parents with easy children; it’s harder to be a good parent with hard children.

midbar – the word for wilderness, debar – the word for word. We find our debar in the midbar. We find our word in the wilderness.

Why suffering doesn’t defeat us – Romans 8.

“Present sufferings can’t be compared to future glory.” (don’t say this to someone who is suffering for a long time) Childbirth.

“God is with us in our weakness.”

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (God’s help is incremental, in steps. Not all at once. Gifts of the Spirit help us get to that one step of help.)

“God uses these things to transform us into the image of Christ.”

FROM VICTOR FRANKL, MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING

…man’s main desire is to see… a meaning in his life.

…nobody made it through the concentation camps who didn’t have a reason to.”

Ways Of Finding Meaning

Active: Meaning that is active, because we’re building something. (enjoying creating)

Passive: You can enjoy recieving pieces of life. (enjoying recieving)

There is a time, when these are taken away.

The Last Of The Human Freedoms: Meaning that comes from the last of the human freedoms; our choice of how we will respond to suffering.

Carlo Carretto, a modern desert father, wrote, Why, O Lord: The Inner Meaning Of Suffering

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