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How We Hide Our Suffering
How We Hide Our Suffering

We have said that suffering is inevitable, that it is universal. I'd like to go one step further and say that everyone is suffering in some way, today. I know I am. Perhaps your situation is dire. A death in the family, a painful heartbreak, the loss of a job, a wayward teenager. But perhaps your situation is relatively innocuous: a harshly worded email, a few extra pounds on the scale that won't seem to go away, an unexpected car maintenance bill. All of this is suffering, and all of it is proof that the world is not as it should be! …

[But there are barriers to grappling with this honestly.] First, we project a hierarchy of suffering on to God. Someone recently forwarded me a particularly vivid example of this method of denial: "If anyone is having a bad day, remember that in 1976 Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake in Apple for $800. Now it's worth $58,065,210,000." Translated into spiritual terms you might say, I'm having a bad day, but at least I don't have pancreatic cancer. God has too much on his plate for me to bother him with my petty concerns. He clearly cares more about starving children than he does about my seasonal depression. There may be something noble about keeping things in proper perspective, but soon we are dictating to God what he should or shouldn't care about …. Eventually we find ourselves editing our prayers along these lines, as though we were giving a political speech, rather than speaking with our heavenly Father. If the only things that qualify as suffering in your life are natural disasters or global warfare, you will soon find yourself plastering a smile on your face and nodding over-enthusiastically whenever someone asks you how you are doing. ...

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How We Hide Our Suffering
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October 2012

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