I get a question asked to me a lot. In fact at least once a week I hear it. The question is “why is there suffering in this world?”
Now, I cannot pin point the answer to this as, obviously, we can all base it on our own theories. I can only give you mine from my own experience and from what I’ve learned from own spirituality and faith.
Firstly I have to say, I can’t walk in anyone else’s shoes. I have absolutely no clue what it is like to suffer from poverty, war, natural disasters, etc. I can only speak of my own type of suffering and hope that you can somehow transition my thoughts into your own life.
I knew at a young age that I was a worry wart. I had anxiety over everything. I had some of my darkest moments through my childhood and my teens. And then came my twenties and I had my first brush with the whole “finding a soulmate”. I don’t think anyone gets through this part of their life without having any form of heartache. I cannot tell you the amount of destruction I’ve gone through in this phase of my life. I remember there was a day where I received a call with some terrible financial news and I had just been through a messy engagement gone wrong, and all I could think of was “I’m not going to get through this….I am NOT going to get through this”. This was my suffering…as little or big as it may seem. It was definitely not the worst form of suffering, but it was certainly not the easiest.
What I can see now is that, in the times of suffering was when I had meaningful questions. I questioned life, I questioned God, I questioned my actions. It is are darkest moments where we look for a spiritual connection, because nothing in this world seems to make us feel any better. I couldn’t see my family’s support. I couldn’t see my friends being there for me. I was numb and couldn’t feel anything. It was then that I was delving into my deeper questions and looking for something more divine than just life. So one of my answers as to why I feel we suffer is because it brings us back to our faith or our spirituality, whatever this means to you. Somewhere deep inside there is a need to have this connection. And in the darkest of times, finding this connection is what makes us believe that if everything falls apart, we will still be okay. That to me is the biggest part of faith and spirituality. As for myself and my faith, did I question why God wasn’t here for me or why He was doing this to me? Yes. Now I see that God was always there. He was being patient and waiting for me to see that I can be there for myself. It’s as though I was learning to ride a bike and through my bumps and bruises I still got up and then I was so proud of myself, and my parents knew I could do it all along:)
Another aspect of suffering is to learn to peel the layers this world has painted upon us and getting back to the core of being a good human being. I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve seen and heard stories of people in the worst condition going out of their way to help someone else. I see it around me all the time. Suffering builds a strong wall of compassion and empathy. And when you suffer, you know what it’s like for others and you support them. A friend of mine just moved to help build a school for Syrian children and he was telling me about how he is in awe of these children who have suffered so much more than anyone can imagine. He said they are always smiling and they always say “Alhamdulillah” which means “thank Allah”. Imagine being in the middle of a war and having people die in front of you and still having the courage to be thankful about life.
I just recently had a close friend of mine who had a bout with cancer and I saw some of her darkest moments and it was so difficult to see my dear friend go through this. I knew that even though her family and friends were there for her, she needed to be there for herself. And thankfully she is better now and in all honesty Ive seen such a beautiful change in her. There is a glow about her that I believe is her ray of strength shining from her. I think she’s proud of herself for being a strong as she is. I would be.
By telling you these stories I’m not saying we should welcome pain. No one wishes for pain and suffering nor should we. But it is inevitable that we will go through suffering in parts of our lives. But it’s clear to me that there is a meaning to our suffering.