I know the usual phrase is “pain and suffering,” but I’m going to challenge all of you with the title of today’s post to shed that notion. To embrace the idea that they don’t have to go together and you can make a choice. I would further put forth to you that you while you should realize that you are going to experience pain that you purposefully try to steer clear of suffering. Jesus promised us that we would, as his followers, experience tribulations (pain), but he died and suffered so that we wouldn’t have to—so that we can turn to God and tap into the Holy Spirit to get through pain and bypass (or at least drastically shorten) the suffering part of things.
I was inspired to talk about this today when I saw a statement on a Christian issues-oriented blog by a commenter that went like this:
In life pain is inevitable, suffering is optional
Now, ain’t that a kicker? I’ve heard a lot of aphorisms before, but never that one. I did some Google searching and it seems it’s a Zen and Buddhist philosophical statement. I found a lot of stuff related to that phrase, but here are a few things that expound upon it a bit: a sermon here from a Unitarian-Universalist church, a blog post here, and a post at a grief discussion group here.
Let it never be said that I don’t tap into non-biblical sources for my inspiration. Zen Buddhist folks can teach a lot about life and how we view it. The key is to remember that we have another life beyond this one and we have to tie the two together. This aphorism about pain vs. suffering seems key to me in understanding what kind of bullet Jesus took for us and how he would want us to conduct our lives when the defecation hits the rotary oscillation device.