The world seems to look at suffering as something to either be avoided or cured. Why is this? True, suffering is never fun, but neither is practicing to perfect any skill or technique. Nor is studying in order to become a doctor or lawyer. We seem to be pointed towards anything that is easy, pain-free, pleasurable and “fun”…which clearly excludes suffering.
But why should we fall into this trap? Haven’t all of us experienced growth in some part of our lives coming out of a difficult situation? Sometimes we have to suffer in order to learn where growth or change is needed. One of my favorite quotes (an old military saying) is, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” In terms of physical pain, perhaps the growth or strength that’s derived is not physical strength (though sometimes it is) but emotional or mental strength. It takes incredible mental fortitude to block out the pain and continue on with life.
Suffering doesn’t always come in the form of physical pain, either. Sometimes suffering could just be a hard and stressful time of our life (something all of us can relate to today). We can choose to either give up in despair or place our trust in God that we’ll be carried through this. If we choose the latter, we experience some degree of spiritual growth as a result of our suffering. Of course the suffering wasn’t fun, but our growth in holiness is always worth it.
This is what brings me to the title, “suffering as currency”. Any form of suffering, whether it be physical, mental or emotion, can act as currency if we treat it as such. Most of the time we let it go to waste, just like wasting our money on something transitory. Instead, we should focus our minds and hearts on using that suffering, or that currency, on either growing in our own spirituality or in offering it up for others, or both. If Christ’s dying on the cross served the purpose of saving us all, then clearly there can be salvation from suffering. Christ experienced the greatest suffering that could be experienced and, in turn, had the necessary currency to save all of mankind. We certainly aren’t called to the same level of suffering (after all, He was God and we aren’t), but our suffering carries with it a proportionate value or weight. Shouldn’t we be using that for others’ sake?
So next time you experience a headache or have a rough day at work or just feel horrible emotionally, offer that up for someone in your family (or a friend) who you know needs some help. If all of us do that, you’ll get your own relief courtesy of someone else’s suffering. As we’ve read in many places in Scripture, “you’ll have your reward in Heaven.”
Let us all begin piling up those rewards in Heaven by helping others along the way through our suffering.