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  • Suffering

    What does suffering mean? And what is its purpose?

    Here's something I covered from a Bible study a few years back:

    Romans 5:3-5
    “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

    So in some sense, we look at suffering as something that molds our character and produces hope.

    At the same time, some of our human nature wishes to cause suffering on people or individuals because we dislike them, not as a form of correcting another in Christ.

    Our response to others suffering is either one of respect or of imposed degradation.

    Many things can cause suffering - physical or emotional - so I ask, without truly knowing details of other's lives, how can we tell if one has suffered and therefore developed this kind of hope?

    Can hope come without suffering?
    Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-09-2007, 07:23 PM.

  • #2
    Thanks for such an insightful and flowing response, Mike!

    I figured that Buddhism would have a really good answer to this question as this is one of the core topics. Its a beautiful religion.

    I'm helping a long-time, close friend of mine regain her self-confidence and her health. I'm going to use this analogy, not only for her but for myself as well.

    Any others out there have a response?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tom Yum View Post
      I'm helping a long-time, close friend of mine regain her self-confidence and her health. I'm going to use this analogy, not only for her but for myself as well.

      Any others out there have a response?

      Yeah. Tell her to go to a real therapist.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by treelizard View Post
        Yeah. Tell her to go to a real therapist.
        I would send her to you Tree, but she's my friend...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tom Yum View Post
          I would send her to you Tree, but she's my friend...
          I'm not a real therapist either--but at least I wouldn't have any ulterior motives.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by treelizard View Post
            but at least I wouldn't have any ulterior motives.
            Of course you wouldn't.....



            uh huh.....



            .....
            Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-11-2007, 03:06 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tom Yum View Post
              Of course you wouldn't.....
              Since I don't know her (and have read too much Eric Bernes) I'm much less likely to be using the "I'm only trying to help you" line than you are.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by treelizard View Post
                Since I don't know her (and have read too much Eric Bernes) .
                Blasphemer! Tree lizard knows everything!!!

                Originally posted by treelizard View Post
                I'm much less likely to be using the "I'm only trying to help you" line than you are.
                You're lying.
                Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-11-2007, 04:43 PM.

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                • #9
                  Another question:

                  Can you look at someone, after hearing them speak or seeing the way they carry themselves or behave and judge whether they have God-like hope produced from suffering?

                  I would say for example, that a young woman who had a child out of wedlock and raised her/him on her own has gone through some suffering that has produced character and hope.

                  Someone who has survived a childhood of extreme discipline, abuse or trauma has gone through some suffering that has produced character and hope.

                  Someone who started their own company from the ground up has experienced some suffering that has produced character and hope.

                  Someone who came from poverty, 3rd world or being homeless and pulled themselves out of it - same thing.

                  Someone who has been through a program like yours, Mike - same thing.

                  And many, many others.

                  So without knowing these circumstances, can we really see this hope produced from suffering?

                  When people say "This person hasn't suffered enough..." are we really projecting our own assumptions on people to make ourselves feel better?

                  I'm excluding circumstances where this phrase is meant as a means of building up by tearing down.
                  Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-11-2007, 05:48 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tom Yum View Post
                    When we say "This person hasn't suffered enough"
                    That's a really awful thing to say.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by treelizard View Post
                      That's a really awful thing to say.
                      I agree with you, Tree.

                      I use "we" because every now and then, these words are spoken by many different people.

                      In other words, its a human experience.
                      Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-11-2007, 05:47 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Usually when you hear the phrase someone has not suffered enough it is referring to a personal power issue.

                        Adversity is a motivator for change and behavior modification. At some point the idea is that people will see that their situation is intolerable and take action.

                        Thinking does not solve suffering, action does. Taking steps to change your situation.

                        Often people are not open to help, or change until they have reach a critical mass. Until then they may still deny the problems or their responsibility for them, or they may simply reject everything and wallow in pity. But once they suffer enough they often will become more receptive.

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                        • #13
                          Adversity (Suffering) is the anvil on which the human spirit is forged. It is only through repeated stress that one can become hardened and honed to a sharp edge.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by treelizard View Post
                            Since I don't know her (and have read too much Eric Bernes) I'm much less likely to be using the "I'm only trying to help you" line than you are.
                            The post wasn't related to any specific event or person, but as a conceptual idea to apply to many events and situations.

                            Tree your response was first one to discredit my attempts at helping a friend (which I admit could be taken in a humorous context) and your second response paints a picture of me as having a hidden agenda.

                            So to clear up any misconceptions, I'll volunteer the circumstances about the friend I responded to Mike about:

                            This woman has been my friend for over 17 years.

                            She and her best friend and me and one of my best friends used to walk home from school together.

                            We were both swimmers in middle school and for a little while in highschool; I helped her get her first job when she turned 16. I was also there for her 5 years ago when her fiance at the time called off their engagement.

                            I've been her confidant at times and she has been mine. Plus her mom is a good cook and helped feed this growing belly as a teenager

                            At times I've been like a big brother to her - so I have a great deal of respect for her; I care about her.

                            While its not my responsibility or duty, I am helping her get back some of her lost self-image after a long conversation. The only thing I've done for her was remind her what she has to do to go where she wants to be. The honey-bee sting analogy is a good reminder.

                            So what do I have to gain?

                            Intangibles. I get to see her happy and that makes me happy. This isn't the first time I've done this for a friend.

                            Suprised?

                            I know, I know guys are still jerks...
                            Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-12-2007, 01:34 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mike Brewer
                              This goes to the root of what you mean when you say "God." If God is indeed almighty, then it's He that decides suffering. When we know better than He does about the lives of others, we can make assumptions. Until then, yes, it is all 100% personal perception. And if God is to you what I think He is, then there is always hope for anyone, yes?
                              That's a big yes, Mike. There is hope for everyone. He does know our lives better than anyone can.

                              What inspired me to bring up this topic was a conversation I eavesdropped on in the grociery store, about someone saying something about how this person or that person hasn't suffered enough.

                              It made me think - how can we know if someone has suffered? If so, how much is enough?

                              It reminded me of the scripture on hope and suffering. I thought through it and decided to write it down here as a way to get different points of view.

                              I believe in some instances and in some personalities, people rank themselves by how much suffering they've been through and then compare others to that standard.

                              If people know of circumstances where others have suffered as intensely or more than they have, they respect them.

                              If they do not know of said circumstances, they do not command the same respect and any confidence or competence from the individual is seen as incongruent or undeserved.

                              I guess this is one of the components of "life experience" - the vague but identifiable character trait that mainstream society places value in.
                              Last edited by Tom Yum; 01-13-2007, 01:36 PM.

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