As a doctor much of my days were spent hearing about the pain and suffering of people. The older we get the more things go wrong with our bodies. We have more aches, more pains and more illnesses. Then there are those that have had health issues since they were children. They are no stranger to suffering. Very few people go through life without suffering.
In the family I grew up in we were taught to endure pain. We were taught to be tuff. Not wine and just take it. Mind over matter. If you do not think about the pain then it becomes more numb. This actually does work to some degree. In Christian circles there is the concept that suffering produces in us character, hope and endurance. Thus I have heard comments from well meaning Christians that say suffering is “good” for us.
As I filter through all of the things I have been taught from the time I was a child to my time working as a doctor I have had to take a step back and ask the question “how does God view suffering and how does that mean the body of Christ should address suffering?”
Suffering is the result of our fallen world. Suffering did not originally exist. God does not CAUSE our suffering. But he allows it just like he allows natural disasters. It is a result of the brokenness of our world. God does not like suffering. But he does work through our suffering. Suffering is not good in itself but God does often use it to bring about goodness. Suffering is not from God. But suffering is a very real part of our world. I like to think of it as a war. No one goes through a war without injuries. Especially if you are an active player.
This brings me to the place of asking how should we as Christians deal with suffering. We as Christians should attempt to alleviate suffering when possible. There is only so much we can do. But one of the roles of us christians is to fighting suffering. This is one of the main reasons I went into medicine rather than research. I wanted to help people.
We as Christians have to learn to endure suffering because we will never fully escape suffering in this life. But we should also be working to prevent, alleviate and stop suffering when possible. Similarly we should never purposefully cause suffering. Do we mess up and sometimes cause suffering. Yes, we are humans who mess up but when possible we should attempt to stop, alleviate and prevent suffering in the first place. It is not only healthcare professionals that work to alleviate suffering. It is all of us. Suffering can come from so many places. What area can you work to alleviate suffering? If you do not know pray Jesus will show you? Amen.