Jun 192014 1 Response

How Some Soar Through Suffering

Some fall apart when the smallest thing doesn’t go their way. They become paralyzed, unable to fathom life going on.

Others seem to soar through tragedy after tragedy. Nothing destroys them and they continue with life no matter what comes their way.

What is the difference between the two? (See: How We Respond to Suffering)

While no situations are exactly the same, being a pastor for over a decade has allowed me to walk beside many people who have gone through similar circumstances.

So often I’m amazed at how two people can experience similar situations, but respond in radically different ways.

A child struggles with bad decisions. One set of parents take it deeply personal while another set of parents understand their child’s decision does not directly reflect on the parents.

A horrible diagnosis is received. One person falls apart and is never the same while another person endures the heartache and grows stronger.

A job is lost. One person is destroyed while another discovers it as a hidden blessing.

From divorce to death, personal suffering to corporate sorrow, I’m deeply intrigued at why some persevere and others wilt.

While there may not be a comprehensive list which defines why some fail and others succeed when it comes to suffering, I have noticed a few common themes.

Three characteristics of those who soar through suffering:

The presence of gratitude. The most defining characteristic of someone who handles suffering well is the ability to experience gratitude in the midst of suffering. This does not occur at the denial of suffering, but happens even in the midst of suffering. While they do not downplay what is bad, they search for and focus on what is good. In nearly every situation, good things are present in bad situations. Those that can still see and appreciate the good respond to suffering in a far better way. (See: The Fine Line Between a Curse and a Praise)

The absence of entitlement. Is life something we are owed or something we are given? When we see our lives as things which we have earned and deserve, every wrong is an attack against our rights. Yet when we view life as a gift we have been given, even the bad experiences can be embraced and appreciated. Entitled people do not suffer well. (See: A Subtle Difference in the Midst of Suffering)

The support of faith. While faith does not ensure a person will soar through suffering, it does make it far more likely. Faith assists a person in putting present suffering into a larger context. It gives them hope and peace. Faith does not answer every question, but it often allows questions to be asked. It can give meaning and purpose to the suffering. Without faith, this world is all we have. If this world is all we have and suffering is making this world difficult, we are not left with much. Having faith provides an opportunity for a person to soar during suffering.

I feel no sense of judgment toward those who do not handle suffering well. I never know their full story and can never assume I would endure better than they do. Yet I do quickly feel a deep admiration for those who suffer well. I seek to learn from and understand those who handle difficult times well because one of the great guarantees of life is that we will all suffer. (See: How to Pray in the Dark)

Before your next difficult day is experienced, identify these three characteristics and seek to instill them within your life. If you do, you will handle your most sorrowful days in a much better way.

For more, see:

7 Recommend Books for when Life Hurts

The Most Overlooked Characteristic of Who You Want to Marry

One Response to How Some Soar Through Suffering
  1. […] In nearly every situation I hear like this, the scene is the same. Bill comes home. He notices somet... kevinathompson.com/when-cancer-causes-divorce

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