We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.
Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk
Monday, May 16, 2011
Suffering is a fact of life that, ultimately, we do not understand. Why is the universe constructed this way? Why does our particular biosphere here on the Earth involve so much "natural" violence, suffering, and things eating things? Maybe someday we will gain an understanding of these things, but we haven't yet and aren't likely to any time soon. What we have come to believe is that there is purpose to our suffering. It is not in vain. Indeed, it sets a course for our Christian lives, namely to be a people who lighten the loads of others, helping them live with and through their pain. Pain shared is so often transformed, somehow, into something much more than merely pain endured.
God has created a universe in which suffering exists and physical pain is necessary. We have to have pain to survive because of the warnings we get from our pain. Individuals who cannot feel pain are at much greater risk than the rest of us. Their "pain free" lives are not to be envied. And, according to our Christian understanding of things, God submits God's self to the same experiences of pain that we go through. Pain and suffering touch God as they touch us. And out of the death of pain and suffering God brings resurrection—a renewal of life, of hope, and of purpose. Why it has to be this way, we don't know. We do know that there is something Beyond pain and suffering, which we have experienced in our lives from time to precious time. Amen.