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Suffering Toward Joy

canopy road

It is remarkable the vast energies we exert in our attempt to avoid suffering. Painful relationships, painful memories, difficult conversations — it’s so easy, so tempting, to ignore those things that will cost us dearly if we stay with them. How many hopes abandoned, possibilities squelched, friendships withered – all because we did not surrender ourselves to the suffering they would require?

The apostle Paul believed that one of the many signs of a genuine love was the tenacity to be patient in the midst of suffering. We cannot truly love another if we are committed to not suffering. We cannot be present with others in their suffering if we are not willing to suffer along with them. We may not know how to silence the voices of shame or how to circumvent the reality confirmed by the oncology report or how to mend a shattered dream. We, of course, cannot return a boy to his mother or cleanse the mind of foul memories. We can, however, mourn with those who mourn. We can weep. We can bear with the pain and not turn away.

The way of love will always require some manner of suffering, the willingness to lay down one’s own well-being for the good of another. Perhaps this is why marriage provides us with one of our ultimate human enactments of love. Vigen Guroian says that marriage is an act of martyrdom, and he is right. If I want to truly love Miska (and I do), it will in some measure be the death of me.

But it will also be my life. Oh the joy. We suffer, not because we’re sadists but because we are committed to the truest and highest good, for ourselves and for others. We suffer for the joy that is set before us.

11 thoughts on “Suffering Toward Joy

  1. Thank you Winn for loving my daughter with this kind of love! Great article full of truth.

    1. Well, she gives me the same love in return. You’ve got a pretty fabulous daughter.

  2. I could not agree more. Thank you for saying this in a way I could hear it with fresh understanding today. I needed that gift.

    1. You’re welcome, Misha. Thank you for writing.

  3. Yes, Winn, agreed! Pretty fabulous indeed!

  4. love’ll be the death of us all. very good words, my friend…very good.

  5. Thank you friend. Truth- beautiful truth!

  6. Surrender to suffering is required for me to have the joys of …. love, hope, family, friends … reading this I am open to more suffering, because I desire more love and more joy. Thank you and nice to meet you.

  7. I am getting married in November. Here is what I believe: God is love. Love is with us so God is with us. If I’m willing to die for love, I must be willing to live for it.

    Thank you for your message.

    1. that works for me, Boomer. I hope it’s okay that I call you Boomer because that’s just fantastic. And congrats on the upcoming nuptials – buckle up.

  8. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.