Suffering boils life down to its most basic level.
When we are not suffering, a lot of things have meaning to us. Little things bother us more and little things mean more to us.
When we suffer, little things may still upset us . . .but not In the same way. Suffering gives us perspective. It helps us keep the little things little as we see them in the light of the big thing or things we may be losing or that have changed for us. In other words, we learn the difference between mountains and molehills.
That also works for the things we “love.” Puppies and our favorite color and sweater and foods don’t hold the same meaning as we fight for what does–our faith and our family. In this sense, this reality points back to the detachment from earthly things that we gain from our suffering.
Our suffering is painful because of the great importance of whatever is causing the suffering. And now we know just exactly how important it is. And, as is usually, if not always the case, if our suffering involves loss, we see that although the pain is incredible, we can live without this thing–even if it is so important to us.
So everything is boiled down to what matters and maybe something that matters is being taken from us. What do we have left?
Ever heard Robert Frost’s poem, Bereft:
Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
Out on the porch’s sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.
Its a good summary of what I am getting at: everything is taken. What’s left?
If everything is taken, we just need to hold on to God for dear life. He is still there-and He may be the only thing but He is there. We can’t control the situation or the suffering. But holding on to our faith is what makes us stronger through it instead of weaker. Recognizing that God is there, loving us and helping us is what allows us to pass through. Being able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” in the midst of our pain is what keeps us going.
In short, many things, maybe everything can be taken from us.
Our faith in God is what matters.