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.
that is a “kicker” indeed. i would have to agree with it, though. my husband , daughter and i lost our son and brother in a car accident in 2004. he was a ten year old little boy. full of sunshine and smiles. he was generous and happy almost always!! he had a heart for others and was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. although we have experienced pain in our loss, i do not believe we are suffering. let me elaborate….my son knew Jesus as his personal Saviour, so when he died, it was only a physical death. when a Christian “dies”, only the body is dead, the spirit lives on eternally. he is now in heaven with God. we know we will see him again some day as we are all saved and on our way to heaven. our flesh misses and longs for him, but our souls and hearts know its only a matter of time before we will be together FOREVER!!! so, it would be silly, not to mention a poor way to live the rest of our lives, to be bitter and allow a lot of suffering and anguish rule our lives!! thanks for the insightful post!!!
I had wondered what took your son from you, since you had alluded to his death previously. I’m glad to hear that you can keep the pain and the suffering separate for the most part. All the same, my sympathies for the loss because regardless of how much you know your loved one is in good hands now and has been for four years, it still is a sad thing at times to lack the temporal closeness of having that person IN your daily life. My wife still struggles with this with her mom, who died relatively young just a few years ago…and I sometimes do with my mom, who passed along similar lines. But again, that is pain, and pain is an important (if unpleasant) part of growth and life.
Peace and blessings!