Lately I've been thinking about suffering quite a bit. I'm not sure why that is. Partially I think it's from being with some friends who are in really difficult times in their lives and suffering quite a bit, and partially I think it's from working with the book of James.
Anyway, I have noticed that the people that I know who have the deepest, most vital, most robust relationships with God are those who have suffered the most--physically, spiritually, emotionally. I don't know why exactly that is, although I kind of think it has something to do with the fact that most of us have to reach the end of our ropes before we'll really and totally turn to God. And these people have all, at one time or another in their lives, found that end point of their personal ropes.
So, the question is, "Is it possible to have that kind of relationship to God without suffering?" This is a critical question for middle class Americans, because so many of us have been blessed to avoid so many of the major causes of suffering, all those caused by extreme poverty. The answer, I think, may be "Yes" and "No." I think that maybe if you have been fortunate enough in your life to have mostly avoided true suffering, you are obligated, especially if you are a Christian, to open yourself to, and help carry, the suffering of others. Your security is gift, not to yourself, but to others, so that you can, by sharing their pain and doing what you can to relieve it, not only be a gift and a blessing to them, but also grow yourself.
This is just a tiny, short 'brain dump' about what's been rattling around in my head the last few days. There is certainly much more to be said.
What do you think?
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