By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I have been reading about suffering a lot. It seems as if there are a few camps regarding the virtues of suffering vis a vis the virtues of not suffering. I thought that I would weigh in on this. Suffering is good, in my opinion. I am defining suffering as the experiences that lead to resilience and endurance (i.e., No Pain, No Gain). Suffering is the experience of “failing forward.”
The reason that this is so important to me is because I see the effects of people feeling afraid of this type of suffering. Most people think that they are entitled to not suffer in life. This is crazy! We suffer when we first experience defeat. We suffer when we experience the death of a loved one. We suffer when we miss the mark and harm another and God. We suffer when others are suffering. We suffer when we realize we are broken and not whole. We suffer when we love, we suffer when we hate.
And, all of these experiences are part of life. Suffering has allowed so many inventions and amazing strides forward in living well. Think of the cures that have been found for so many diseases, these cures came about not only because of the suffering and deaths of people, the scientists/physicians also suffered through their failures. Each time, they did not quit, they did not go into depression; they pushed through and learned from each ‘failure.’
Suffering is an experience that helps us be more human, in my opinion. It allows me to experience Grace and Mercy, Compassion and Truth, Love and Healing. These are basic human experiences and basic Divine experiences. This suffering pushes us to be more tolerant of others, more helpful to others and allows others to be more tolerant and helpful to us.
Each child has to learn to go through suffering to find the rainbow of living. Each adult has to learn to go through suffering to find the love of others and God. I think that we all need to appreciate suffering for what it is—love, learning and Grace.