Choosing Suffering

posted Apr 8, 2012, 7:42 PM by Aaron Cobb

There are sufferings that are unwelcome and which we must resist, root out, and seek to supplant. But there are other sufferings that, though unwelcome, we must seek to embrace. These sufferings are not good; no suffering is good in itself. They are not enjoyable or easy to carry (let alone understand). These are not sufferings to be sought out; they visit in the ordinary course of living. And these sufferings are always intrusive and life-altering, sometimes expected and sometimes not.

Why would anyone choose to suffer when there are avenues of escape, when one can choose any easier path? Why would one choose to welcome and to receive the events that cause such deep pain? Wouldn’t it be better to seek to remove them until all that is left is light?

We can avoid suffering by refusing to love well. We can avoid suffering by failing to care for those who need our love. We can avoid suffering - at least for a time - by isolating ourselves and refusing the path of dependence. But the irony of avoiding this suffering is that it leaves one without love, without others to care for, without those who provide one with the opportunity to love and be loved.

Choosing to suffer in these times is a sign, an indication of something deeper, something good, something worth pursuing, something worth upholding, something worth valuing. We suffer because we choose to love. We suffer because the ones we love need our care. We suffer because of our dependence upon others. And we must choose this suffering.

Much of life is an attempt to distinguish between those sufferings we ought to try to weed out of the soil of our lives and those sufferings which are seeds that might bear fruit. By seeking to eradicate suffering, to eliminate those who suffer, to bury that which makes us dependent, we find ourselves withering. Only one choice bears fruit.

ADC (4/8/2012)