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Topic: SUFFERING

There is no true love save in suffering, and in this world we have to choose either love, which is suffering, or happiness…. Man is the more man—that is, the more divine—the greater his capacity for suffering, or rather, for anguish.
Miguel de Unamuno (1864–1936), Spanish philosophical writer. The Tragic Sense of Life, ch. 9 (1913).
Comment: Our suffering is made divine by our ability to surrender our suffering and life to Christ. Suffering takes on its own meaning and purpose as He works in us. When we suffer we are made selfish, but when we suffer to do His will our selfishness turns into selflessness PK

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), British author. The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 17 (1919).
Comment: Suffering ennobles the character only when we have given up trying to suffer on our own and suffer for our own purposes. Suffering ennobles the character when we suffer for the cause of Christ. PK

There is not much sense in suffering, since drugs can be given for pain, itching, and other discomforts. The belief has long died that suffering here on earth will be rewarded in heaven. Suffering has lost its meaning.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (b. 1926), Swiss-born U.S. psychiatrist. On Death and Dying, ch. 2 (1969).
Comment: Suffering has lost its meaning because so many people have lost their faith in God. Suffering is the work of Satan. Suffering comes at us in shapes and sizes that are not recognizable as Satanic. A lot of people believe suffering is the work of God. The kind of God that makes people suffer unjustifiably is not a very nice person. What is most correct is that suffering for many people is the result of going against God, God’s laws, and His precepts. In other words, when you fool with God, you will pay. When you play with fire you will get burned. Satan makes sure the devout children of God suffer just so their faith will be undermined. If you are devout, and you are suffering, and if you hold to your faith through the suffering there is a party waiting for you in heaven. PK

It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades.
Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist. AIDS and Its Metaphors, ch. 4 (1989).
Comment: We can make sense of suffering only if we make sense that God is not responsible for it, did not "allow" it, and is not pleased with it. PK

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), British author. The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 17 (1919).
Comment: Suffering without a connection to God within the heart does devastate and makes men and women petty and vindictive. However, suffering while keeping the love of God in the heart as ones goal works for the glory of God. PK

Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you’ll know you’re dead.
Tennessee Williams (1914–83), U.S. dramatist. Quoted in: Observer (London, 26 Jan. 1958).
Comment: If you have decided to follow Jesus somewhere, somehow in your suffering, when you stop suffering you will jump for joy and be in eternal happiness. Praise God that He loves us so. PK

You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
Franz Kafka (1883–1924), German novelist, short-story writer. The Collected Aphorisms, no. 103 (Oct. 1917–Feb. 1918; repr. in Shorter Works, vol. 1, ed. and tr. by Malcolm Pasley, 1973).
Comment: To turn your back on the suffering of others and not respond to that suffering is a victory for Satan and a defeat for you. PK

Suffering is by no means a privilege, a sign of nobility, a reminder of God. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing, commonplace, uncalled for, natural as air. It is intangible; no one can grasp it or fight against it; it dwells in time—is the same thing as time; if it comes in fits and starts, that is only so as to leave the sufferer more defenseless during the moments that follow, those long moments when one relives the last bout of torture and waits for the next.
Cesare Pavese (1908–50), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935–1950, 1952; tr. 1961), entry for 30 Oct. 1940.
Comment: Suffering can remind us of God if we want the touch of God’s love, even if we are suffering to much to experience that love. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing that is put upon us by Satan. It is understandable only if we look at the evil of Satan. You can fight against it by immersion of your pain and your heart in the love that is God. Yes, suffering is random, but it is random by design so we will not see that Satan is the real source of it. Yes, Satan’s attack called suffering leaves us defenseless if we do not have a connection to God, but with God we have a person to whom we can complain, to whom we can shake our fist in anger, and in whom we have someone to send us laughter to ease the pain until He calls us home. PK

Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
George Orwell (1903–50), British author. Shooting an Elephant, "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool" (1950).
Comment: We can have fun even in our old age, our middle age, or in our youth. Suffering tears out the heart of our fun-making, but we can look up into the sky, and look within to see the angels of our God. When we look up we can see the goofy doings of cherubs that bring us laughter from nowhere which makes others think we have truly lost our mind. But we must not tell them about the cherubs, for the sane who suffer and cannot see them will never believe us. PK

A man will renounce any pleasures you like but he will not give up his suffering.
George Gurdjieff (c. 1877–1949), Greek-Armenian religious teacher, mystic. Quoted in: P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, ch. 13 (1949).
Comment: We cannot renounce suffering but, oh, if we could. We cannot renounce suffering because pain is not a choice it is a response. However, even in pain, we can choose how to respond. We can choose to push our pain into the nail-scarred hands of Christ our Savior. PK

We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution and which cannot even do without pain and anxiety as warning signals; from the external world, which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless forces of destruction; and finally from our relations to other men. The suffering which comes from this last source is perhaps more painful than any other.
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Austrian psychiatrist. Civilization and its Discontents, ch. 2 (1930; repr. in Complete Works, vol. 21, ed. by James Strachey and Anna Freud, 1961).
Comment: We may be threatened but we need not fear. Although not in Freud’s paradigm, we have a powerful, wonderful, and ever-present comforter who is within us, around us, over us, and under us, called God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. PK


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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018