However, I have found that in certain areas suffering is the only way to learn. We often can learn more quickly from pain than pleasure.
But it’s important to know there are two kinds of suffering.
There is suffering that leads to more suffering, and there is suffering that leads us out of suffering.
This is sometimes referred to as necessary suffering and unnecessary suffering.
Necessary suffering leads us into relief and happiness.
Unnecessary suffering leads to more suffering.
Which will it be for us? We choose. It depends on our intention and our willingness. Will we meet suffering or run from it?
Both Jesus and the Buddha have shared the message that everyone must endure suffering. It’s universal. It’s the price we pay for being human.
This is necessary suffering. Jesus called it “tribulation” and told us, as did the Buddha, there is an overcoming of it.
Suffering is a part of life and there’s no avoiding it. We do get ill. Everything and everyone that is born will die, even those we love. And we will have some heavy disappointments, betrayals and loss.
The good news is that we choose how we will meet these inevitabilities. We can either react in our usual way, which won’t relieve the suffering, or choose to respond in a new wholesome way.
By learning how to respond rather than react we are lifted into grace.
Do we want to find the way out of our difficulties? If so, the only way out is in and through.
Sometimes people are surprised to know that the root meaning of suffering, according to Webster, is to allow.
When we learn to allow and let it be the way it is for right now, rather than try to control, avoid, or hang onto, we find our way through suffering. We find relief.
This is the overcoming of tribulation that Jesus taught.
The way through requires meeting the causes of our suffering.
Remember the famous saying by Joseph Campbell about bliss? But have you read the rest of the sentence?
“Follow your bliss which will be found at the core of your suffering.” Joseph Campbell
If we want bliss it is required that we go to the core of our suffering.
This entails investigating our expectations, beliefs and opinions. For these become our stories. And most often they are very sad and limited stories.
What story are we telling ourselves? Right now, as you read this, stop for a moment and ask yourself what story you are telling yourself.
Often we remember the hurts and discomforts from the past and they are our stories. We repeat them in a seemingly endless loop.
Let’s look at Job’s story. He trusted completely when things were going well. But when his world fell apart he was filled with resentment because he thought God had somehow betrayed him.
Yes, we are like Job. It’s so easy to trust when everything is going well.
That’s why this story is such a fundamental part of our Bible.
We, like Job, can respond by investigating our beliefs and come to believe in a Higher Power than our own.
We can choose to surrender to God and trust God to supply us with our needs.
Thus we have the wonderful ending to the book of Job, in which he was abundantly given his life back — even more than he had before! That’s bliss.
But we, like Job, can’t really trust until we face our inevitable losses and disappointments.
Conscious, aware suffering can be our opportunity to find real relief and freedom. It is the way through.
So, let’s go back to that word allow.
What are we willing to allow? Or not.
Not this, we may scream inwardly! Or certainly not this! No, this can’t happen!
Well, maybe it is just this experience that can reveal our mistaken beliefs and guide us back onto the path of joy.
Perhaps this is the very pain and discomfort that will show us the cause of our suffering so that it can dissipate, and allow joy to fill us.
To do this, we need to look deeply into our underlying motivations.
The Source of all we need is not outside us, but is within us.
Job found freedom and joy when he came to that place where he didn’t have to understand why things happened, but to rely on God to run the world. He simply trusted the great power of karma.
Job allowed God to be Supreme by choosing to give his control to God. He found his inner resources!
We have the choice to do likewise.
When we get really tired of our stories, our interpretations of events, we can choose to look within and find out what we are expecting and believing in.
As the saying goes, “suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional.”
The way out is in and through.
This is the grace of God, and it’s here within us all the time.