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  • Writer's picturePaper Paladin

How Do We Handle Suffering?

When we suffer, our soul feels it. Our mind makes choices based on the suffering. Often, those choices are to make the suffering go away as quickly as possible instead of allowing ourselves the space and time to uncover why we want to make the suffering go away.

Understanding the why, helps us better understand ourselves. Giving ourselves that space and time is tending to our soul. Once we've listened to ourselves, we can recognize the reality that suffering is part of life, part of our humanity on earth. It's not something that we need to run away from all the time, and if we're brave enough to face it, it has much to teach us.

Suffering challenges us on what we want and when we want it. This is the mind component of “body, mind and soul.” 

Immediacy is a characteristic of our Western culture. It would be naive to think that our desire for everything instantaneously wouldn’t carry over to alleviating suffering. We have lost the ability to face suffering, let alone face it well. Another way to think about this is that we've lost the ability to wait.

The longer we live with suffering and do not wait well (refusing to do the heart work God calls us to do), the feelings of emptiness and striving grow. The stronger those feelings become, we may be led in the wrong direction, turning inward instead of toward God. 

Our culture’s knee-jerk reaction to suffering resembles obsessiveness. We give our time, energy, and money to that which we desire, to make the pain go away quickly. This self-sufficient soothing takes the place of God in our lives. We become slaves to that “thing.” We must be honest with ourselves about this, as painful as it is to own this reality: each of us is an idol-making factory; we have a hard time keeping God on the throne and thus, accepting suffering in our lives.

We are body, mind and soul.

Responding well to suffering is recognizing the spiritual and emotional parts of us, in addition to the physical. It's also the choices we make along the way. When we choose to respond well to suffering, we're living differently than our culture tells us to. When we choose to trust God even though we don’t understand, that choice reflects our love for Him and His love for the people He has placed in our lives. We're able to put our faith into practice. As Christ’s followers, we're able to bring the much-needed flavour and light to this world (Matthew 5:13-14).

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