So often, there are those who use suffering and pain to conclude the lack of the presence of God in our lives. I so often consider those thoughts, and then contemplate what life would be without suffering and pain. A child who never felt the pain of being burned would never know that fire can be deadly. A newborn, feeling for the first time the pains of hunger, cries out to their mother for food.
We are not given pain that we may suffer, we are given pain and suffering that we may learn and grow. Father Seraphim Rose teaches that “Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world.” It is when we are tested by the rigors of pain that we find ourselves no longer content with all that this world has to offer. It is through those lessons that we learn to grow spiritually. If a man never felt the pain of hunger, he would merely wander through life until he eventually fell down dead. Similarly, spiritually, if we never felt the pains of the world, we would be perfectly content to wander through this life until we fall down dead, never seeking to grow beyond what is right before our eyes.
Pleasure and gratification are impermenant, whereas through the loss of those things, we learn to seek that which will never cease. We begin to learn to see worldly pleasures as fleeting, and only then do we mature to seek those things which are spiritual. It is for this very reason that the Lord warns that whoever should come after Him should deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow. And it is only through heeding that warning that we will ever be able to grow in our spiritual lives.
Our faith can only be molded and shaped when it is placed within the furnace of loss, pain, and suffering.
Christ is risen!