Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Can Our Suffering be a Choice?

Yesterday, I shared how suffering can be either Harmful, or Helpful.
So the question today is this:
If suffering can be Harmful OR Helpful...
do we then have a choice of how it affects us??

The quickly obvious answer is simple, yet not easy;
Yes, how we accept suffering is a matter of choice.

We can deny our suffering, hide from it,
or grow angry and ‘fight’ it, but...
we CAN also grow from it, even while it is happening.

Viktor Frankl is a holocaust survivor,
and has written a well known book titled Man's Search For Meaning.
In it, Viktor chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate
based on his method of finding meaning in all forms of existence,
even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living.

Can you imagine it?
Finding purpose and meaning in a ‘death camp’,
a reason for living,
and even to sympathize for your captors?

The point today isn’t our various levels of suffering;
there is no comparison in what you experience
versus what anyone else may feel in their own struggles.
The choice is this: how will the situation define you?
Or to phrase it differently;
how will you be defined by the situation?

It is natural to abhor pain and suffering,
especially when we see the anguish of those around us,
but it is Gods grace that allows us to move forward,
to live for something beyond the momentary troubles.

We can also consider the opposite view
while asking the same questions:
if we never suffer, or face any real hardship...
what will we learn?
Therefore, how do we grow and develop?
To use an exercise metaphor:
How will I grow stronger
if I never lift anything heavier than which I can already handle?

In my own situation, I stopped growing.
I quit allowing myself to be put in situations which forced me to grow.
Then, I became prideful, and justified my own drunk-driving.
So when I was arrested, I had but one choice;
start living for God, or die living for myself.

When you face the hardships and pain of life,
what will you choose?

For Monday: Is Suffering Fair?

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