Leengee Pierre is a senior politics and international relations student.

This post is the ninth of our new season of the From the Field student blog series: For Times Such as This.  If you have not yet done so, please read this opening post for some brief context. 

In Life Worth Living, Volf, Croasmun and McAnnally-Linz observe that “[w]e are reason-seeking animals, and we are (all too often) people in pain. We need responses to suffering that both help us cope and help us fit the pain and disjointedness we find in our lives and our world into a larger picture.” (202). Suffering has been the biggest part of human lives. We know suffering can have a huge effect on our lives; it has impacted not only who we are as an individual but also the community that we are in. That part of our lives is one of the ways we learn from and can improve ourselves overall. Despite our suffering, we should seek happiness because we would not want to be one’s suffering. They are ways to work against suffering.

Through God, we should have the ability to see beyond our suffering. Yes, we suffer because of our sinful nature, but that does not stop us from rebuking any effect that suffering would bring to us. As 1 Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (NIV). Through God, you will find happiness despite your sufferings. God’s purpose in your life has no negative effect on your life, but the sinful world that you live in. Those experiences of suffering sometimes create a feeling of God being absent in your life, but it is not ceasing your faith in God. As the authors stated, “God’s purposes and wisdom far surpass any powers of ours to ferret out the meaning of things. The appropriate thing to do is to bear suffering patiently while we wait to see what good it brings.” (Volf et al., 193). Through our suffering, we will find something good out of it when we have God helping us overcome it. There will be happiness, no matter how it hurts you, but it should not stop you from doing the things that need to be done in our life; we must move forward.

Through suffering there will always be an end. Nietzsche’s view on suffering is that it is baked into life, you can learn from your suffering. This suffering helps you understand more about certain things about yourself but also learn about certain things that would prevent you from having that same suffering. Through that suffering, you can see a positive outcome to it. As Nietzsche said about suffering, “Each of our lives sits atop the heap of all history that went before it, each life would have come about without every ounce of that history” (as cited in Volf et al. 196). That history of suffering will be a memory of what you have overcome because there was a purpose through your experience. There will always be a connection to all the experiences and suffering that you have encountered in your life.

I believe you can avoid suffering depending on the circumstances you experience. Sometimes you know you should not put yourself in a situation, so you avoid it. Much of our suffering is based on what we could have done to remove ourselves from the specific situation, which you later find the solution to the problem. For instance, you can struggle to do well in a course, but through practice, study, and meeting with the professor, you can overcome that struggle. We should not accept suffering within ourselves, but pursue happiness. Nietzsche believes that we consider pain ““as evil, hateful, deserving of annihilation, as a defect of existence.” (Volf et al., 195), which is true. I believe that we should accept something that does define who God wants us to feel; happy. God does not want us to suffer, and we have the Bible to guide us into happiness and the path that He wants us to go. We should not let suffering dictate our happiness because there is nothing great about suffering.

For me, this book has exposed various aspects of life that we humans feel in our daily lives. It gives a view of different ways to accept or overcome certain aspects of our lives. Using different beliefs, Bible scriptures, and stories would give us an understanding of how we should think about life and ourselves, especially how we view suffering and our worth to ourselves and the world. It also gave me an understanding of how different people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs – such as Apostle Paul, Confucious, Muhammad, and Buddha – relate each subject to their understanding. It made me realize many thoughts and opinions about myself and others that are around me.


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