Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Life At Its Best - 5 on Suffering (from the chapter on Hope)

To be human is to be in trouble. Job's anguish is our epigraph: 'Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.' Suffering is a characteristic of the personal. Animals can be hurt, but they do not suffer. The earth can be ravaged, still it cannot suffer. Man and woman, alone in the creation, suffer. For suffering is pain plus: physical or emotional pain plus the awareness that our own worth as people is threatened, that our own value as creatures made in the dignity of God is called into question, that our own destiny as eternal souls is jeopardized. Are we to be, finally, nothing? Are we to be discarded? Are we to be rejects in the universe and thrown onto the rubbish dump of humanity because our bodies degenerate or our emotions malfunction or our minds become confused or our families find fault with us or society avoids us? Any one of these things or, as is more likely, a combination of them, can put us in what Psalm 130 calls the depths.
A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side. A man or woman of faith who fails to acknowledge and deal with suffering becomes, at last, either a cynic or a melancholic or a suicide. Psalm 130 grapples mightily with suffering sings its way through it, and provides usable experience for those who are committed to travelling the way of faith to God through Jesus Christ.

- p. 119-120 Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson (italics original)

This deeply touched my heart. In fact, this whole chapter was very meaningful and helpful to me. The fear (the plus part of suffering) is mine, and that cynic, melancholic, and even suicidal person is me!

I'll post up another quote from this same chapter. When I do, this time, it'll be about hope.

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