“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” ~ Thomas Merton
I do not think that I ever met a person who said, “Yippee! I get to suffer today!” That would not happen. It goes against everything in our human nature. We do not embrace suffering, we abhor it. And therein lies the problem. Because we fear suffering, we do everything that we can to avoid it.
However, life is not always about good things. There are times that suffering is a real part of life. If we fear it, if we shun it, we will never be able to move through it. Taken to an extreme, it immobilizes people. Sailing on the ships of old was a very arduous task and often involved suffering. If people refused to do that, the New World would never have been discovered. Going in to space is very dangerous. If people feared the potential suffering involved, we would never have landed on the moon.
I know, some of you might be thinking that those are extreme examples. You are right. They are. However, they may also be priming the pump to help you think of other, less extreme, examples of how people — perhaps even yourself — avoid suffering and, therefore, do not give themselves the chance to grow.
Our lives — and our faith lives — may involve suffering. However, if we allow ourselves to plunge into life as completely as possible, God will be with us. Not only will he accompany us, He will give us the grace, strength, and protection that we need to meet and, if necessary, to endure suffering.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those whose fear of suffering has paralyzed them and made them unable to grow in faith.