This sub-title from a book caught my attention, when I saw it on a friends shelf. Is this a statement from someone who is living in a fantasy world? ‘Refusing to suffer’ or, do I have a choice?
Terrible things happen in this world. I have a memory full of unexplainable tragedies and unresolved complexity. You’re likely to have a long list as well. It’s the randomness of life’s events that can leave us questioning.
Can I by simply ‘refusing to suffer’ halt emotionally painful events in my life or in the lives of others? Surely not. Then how can I interpret this bold subtitle: The Danger of Refusing to Suffer?
Jesus is described as a man of suffering and familiar with pain, (Isaiah 53:3; Mark 8:31; Luke 24:25-26). Scripture certainly is clear on the fact that followers of Jesus can expect to suffer.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him but also to suffer for him. ‘We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us!’ Romans 5 v 3-5a. Similarly James 1:2-4. Believers can know there is a purpose in the pain. But the pain still exists and it hurts!
So in what way do you and I “refuse to suffer?”
Gary Thomas answers this in Authentic Faith; “I must learn to accept some suffering as an inevitable part of living in a fallen world. These changes hurt. They are not easy. Suffering and change go hand in hand…Our refusal to suffer can lead to addictions and even physical breakdowns. We usually engage in sin to meet some immediate demand or need. Merely stopping the sin does nothing to address the yearning that led to the sin in the first place, which is why we must pass through the desert….the point I’m making is that holiness may make your life more miserable in the short run, though far more joyful in the long run…”
Gerald Sittser, in his classic, A Grace Disguised, talks about his response to the death of a daughter, his wife and mother in a tragic head-on collision by a drunk driver.
“My own catastrophic loss thus taught me the incredible power of choice—to enter the darkness and to feel sorrow as I did after the accident, even as I continued to work and to care for people, especially my children. I wanted to gain as much as I could from the loss without neglecting ordinary responsibilities. I wanted to integrate my pain into my life in order to ease some of its sting. I wanted to learn wisdom and to grow in character. I had had enough of destruction and I did not want to respond to the tragedy in a way that would exacerbate the evil I had already experienced. I knew that running from the darkness would only lead to greater darkness later on. I also knew that my soul had the capacity to grow—to absorb evil and good, to die and live again, to suffer abandonment and find God. In choosing to face the night, I took my first steps toward the sunrise”.
Sittser’s story depicts understanding of ‘the danger of refusing to suffer.’
I have a choice…….. so do you…..