Monday, November 9, 2009


Where did we get the idea that suffering was a bad thing?
Hmm. That was a stupid question. Mostly I was looking for something to open this post with.

I'm going to write about a few things that have been on my mind lately. This is going to be a little disjointed, but I don't really care much about organization at 2:19 in the morning.

In art, chiaroscuro shading is a method used to differentiate light from darkness.
Would light be as beautiful or welcome if we were constantly bathed in it? I'm going to leave that one open.

Scripture says that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. Why do we hate God for giving us the very thing we need to continue to live and grow? Because it hurts.

Surgery hurts too.

And another thing: Why do we look to Heaven as our panacea and despise earthly life? In doing that, don't we despise God Himself?

Don't get me wrong. I have high hopes for Heaven. That's not a bad thing.
What's bad is when we miss the things God has for us in the here and now because we're too busy wishing we were already at the end of the road.

I have a thought that may be radical for some of you. It's radical to me too. A large part of me revolts at it. But a larger part of me thinks it's true.

Suffering is beautiful. It isn't beautiful in and of itself, and it certainly isn't beautiful by most earthly standards, but it is beautiful. If we could see things from God's perspective, if we could see how everything works out, we might be able to understand exactly how. As it is, the human race has a bad case of tunnel vision.

I don't know if I can describe to you exactly what I mean by calling suffering beautiful, but I'm about to try. I've already used the chiaroscuro analogy, and I think that makes a lot of sense. God reveals Himself through suffering, if we bother to look.

I also think of life as a tapestry. Everything, both "good" and "bad" is interwoven together with precision to make something complete and beautiful in the end. We can't see it because we're part of the tapestry, but God can. Everything fits together, "works together for good."

I'm barely scratching the surface of what I mean, unfortunately.

All that to say: give praise to God when you go through trials, when you suffer seemingly without cause, when you don't know the answers. Learn to say with Job: "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. May the name of the Lord be praised."

I'm not writing this as someone who has reached the apex, who has somehow arrived at perfection in this area. I'm writing this as someone who continues to struggle with understanding his own suffering. If any of these thoughts are useful and good, it is not because they come from me.

Um...the end. For now.


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The Institute for Circular Reasoning by Peter Semple is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.