Monday, January 23, 2017

Reflection for the Week - January 23

A Christian view of Suffering is often that it is – outweighed by benefits – but I’m not convinced. As I see it there are two problems with this: the potential underplaying of suffering itself and the assumption that it is ‘outweighed by benefits.’ The first, suffering, can be horrific and inescapable. It has to be recognized that suffering can leave deep wounds that are extremely difficult to heal. The second, well, I think that it’s better not use the term ‘outweighed,’ even in a case where thriving or the desires of the heart are an outcome, whether this is related to God or otherwise. In my view, ‘outweighed’ is something like a category mistake because the agony of profound suffering in time, in spite of potential benefits, is not outweighed by them. We’re just not made that way. Memory, emotion, imagination, and longing, are all unavoidable traits of each person: sufferer or benefiter. Thus, when we take humanness into consideration, there is a need to find a better way of configuring this thorny issue. I’d wager that should a benefit in the midst of suffering arise, both are experienced in the flow of a life that is a wild and messy blend of the two. Nothing in this context is really outweighed by anything else, since what is lived in time is an embodied phenomenon of emerging complexity and dense mutuality.