Suffering, Part 1 of 5

The first in a series of reflections on one of the chiefest themes of the Lenten season and of life

Trying times test our faith.

Faith in God. Whether it is the idea of God’s existence and, if not that, then the notion of God’s benevolence.

Faith in ourselves. Our capacity to reason and to choose among options a course of action. Our power to pursue that which we purpose.

Faith in our values. Given that our behavior, under the tension of trying times, may belie what we profess. What we say we believe. Thus, who we say we are.

Trying times test our faith.

The definition of a trying time? It can be whatever you or I say it is. One thing I have learned. It does little good to compare trying times seeking to measure whether one’s experience is more or less vexing or valid than that of another.

I recall a moment many years ago during a session with a therapist. In my continued course of deepening self-awareness, I sadly confessed to her my lack of growth. I felt woefully mired in what I termed “my long-ago yesterdays.”

I then shared with her the sorrowful state of existence of my next-door childhood friend whose parents, for misbehavior real or perceived, would whip him and, for long periods, would lock him in his room. I protested, “My parents never did such terrible things to me! So, why am I stuck in the pain of my past?”

Her gaze fixed, her brow furrowed, she listened. Then, after a time, her voice almost a murmur, she said, “Paul, your experience is your experience. Rather than measure it relative to others, explore it more deeply. For, therein, is your healing.”

More to come…

© 2021 PRA

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