Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunny Saturday

This is a world with amazing good in it.  But it is also a world with unspeakable evil and suffering in it.  How can these be reconciled?  How can sense be made of it?  I don't believe it can in this life. 

This is the world of the Nazi gas chambers, after all.  Whenever I am down, whenever I feel like there are things going on in my life that seem beyond my control, that seem to linger endlessly, I am tempted to turn inward in despair and fury. 

But then I remember the picture to the left.  I remember how those people sat in those concentration camps and watched their friends die in horrible, horrible ways.  Maybe they were next.  What could these people have done to stop it?  Nothing.  No self-help book could help them put up better boundaries or assert their way out of it.  No quaint, clever little sayings could help them "look on the bright side of things."

Thankfully, most of us will never have to endure what those poor souls endured in that hell on earth.  But we will all suffer in some way.  Sooner or later, it will come to us.  And we seldom have much input into how severe or how long it will be. 
So the same truth resounds for each of us.  If our view of life and the world does not accomodate suffering in some way, we will be perpetually frustrated and unable to cope with real life.

Now, to say that we must "accomodate" suffering is complex.  We should never say that suffering itself is good.  It is no friend to welcome in.  Nor should we come to some sort of defeated, apathetic position where we let it trample us as we pretend that it doesn't exist.  But we do need to have a realistic view of this world: it will never be heaven on earth.  With all of our great plans for the life ahead of us, if we do not have "room" for suffering in it, and if we cannot conceive of how suffering is a pathway to something better, then we will not deal well with suffering well when it comes... and it will come. 

Instead, we will crumple. Or we will destroy ourselves and others.  See, if life is only "life" if it is free from the negative influences and possibilities that the world has to offer -or in other words, if life is only "life" when it is always on our terms- then it will not take much for us to feel that our "life" is ruined, not worth living, and not much of a "life".

We can go around living in constant guard, like a caged animal, saying, "I can't let that happen," or "I can't let them do that to me," and we may or may not be able to prevent it.  But we will kill ourselves with the worry and anxiety.  We will crush ourselves with bitterness and a demand for control.  And for what?  Life is still life... even if those things do happen.  We can learn to live in parallel with the downsides of life.  We must if we want to survive and live in a way that is a blessing to God, ourselves, and others.  Praise God, you aren't standing in a gas chamber.

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