Define Suffering

Deborah Venable



Can anyone else hear the moans?  Can you see the tears of pain?  Can you empathize with the physical and mental anguish that accompanies a large community of victims?  More importantly, do you care?


Those who have walked the ruins of a war torn, burnt out town where innocents were destroyed in the name of hate or political expediency know the brand such carnage singes into the soul of a “normal” person.  Ask any living veteran of a foreign war – military or civilian – if the experience “changed” him or her.  Can you guess the answer before you ask the question?


No one can adequately vocalize the individual effects of true human suffering, though some might try.  More than likely such effects will be played out in actions or even inactions, philosophies, art forms, personality and behavior instabilities.  Real or imagined moral side effects is a given.


Watching loved ones suffer from debilitating illnesses and die slow and painful deaths is a life changing experience. 


Who are the victims of human suffering and what are the causes?  Too often these questions do not even get asked any more – let alone answered.  Most people are too wrapped up in mock suffering, playing the victim of one thing or another that pales in the presence of real victimhood. 


Where are the daily prayers of gratitude and thanks for the simple grace of life?  Some of us out here were raised with these.  They were exercises to strengthen our souls, stabilize our psyches, and balance our lives with our environments.  When people around us failed, at least we had our faith that others would not and that God never would.  We knew that when we failed ourselves, as all humans do, our failures would be forgiven as long as we maintained our own forgiving hearts. 


If you can remember the happiest you have ever been, then suffering is the absence of all the positive causes of that happiness.  Not some, but all good things in your life would have to be erased to induce real suffering.  Can that ever happen?  Only if you will it. 


You can experience pain without suffering, just as you can experience joy without gratitude.  One is quite meaningless without giving in to the other.  Pain is a warning that things could be worse, just as joy is a reminder that it could be temporary. 


As science tries to explain more and more to an ever-growing Godless humanity, it hands us synthetic pain and joy on a silver platter of flawed knowledge.  We are surrounded by mock suffering and manufactured happiness that require man-made laws to control.  Unforgiving hearts write those laws. 


I care about the victims of unforgiving hearts.  I hear their moans and I feel their anguish.  It makes me angry for them and it reminds me that but for the grace of God, I could be among them.  So I stir the pot of insensitivity to the way things are with little articles of words in writing.  I shun mock suffering and try to understand the reason for real suffering.  It exists, I believe, to remind us of its polar opposite – to define it for us. 


Where are those prayers of gratitude and thanks for the simple grace of life?



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