Is there power in pain and suffering?
It seems the answer to this question maybe yes, there certainly used to be. If we look back over time the idea of human suffering almost seems to be an innate state of being. We even used to value personal sacrifice for the good of humanity. What is is about suffering and pain that is so appealing to us or is it simply a conditioned response?
It has long been the case that suffering is related to our sense of ‘goodness’. The more I suffer the better a person I must be considered to be for it. If I suffer enough then I will be rewarded in some future life or in heaven. But with our increasing scepticism in both the messages of church and the idea of an afterlife, maybe suffering no longer has the power to deliver for us that it used to have. The result? Why should I suffer? I don’t deserve to suffer and there are no benefits to suffering?
Yet, suffering is still one of the major catalysts for change and when we feel we have some influence over that change it can be positively transformational. If we feel powerless in the face of suffering, perhaps because our suffering feels purposeless, then the result can be despair and ongoing pain.
Suffering always has a purpose. Is it necessary for transformational change? It doesn’t have to be. Can it leverage transformational change – yes absolutely.