— by Petrea Huynh, MA, IMF Registered Intern #90087
Supervised by Donald W. Welch, Ph. D, LMFT, Lic. #MFC 50129
There is a suffering inherent in being human. We know this when we grieve the loss of a dear one, when we feel injured or defeated by conflicts within our most beloved relationships, when we taste the mortality of our own flesh, or when our hard work seems to bear little fruit. And the Lord tells us the meaning behind our suffering: “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV).
We are like the caterpillar who must break free from her dark cocoon before she may be transformed in Light. If she were to be ripped from the dark unknown prematurely, she would not have the strength to fly. Without her personal struggle to break free, she would die…for she would lack the endurance necessary to live as a butterfly. She could never have known this in her darkest moment: The suffering inherent in pushing her tiny fragile frame free of the rough cocoon was the most fruitful part of her journey forward.
But the butterfly might lack one quality that would make our journey even more challenging than hers: the power of self-recrimination. Sometimes when humans suffer, even (or maybe especially) those of us of Faith, we approach ourselves with shame, doubt, and blame. Perhaps we believe we are wrong to feel anything other than Love and Joy when we know a Lord such as ours. Or maybe the experiences of pain and struggle produce the interpretation that we have done something terribly wrong.
What would happen if we were to simply embrace the struggle? The Lord promised that "in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 ESV). He has overcome this world so that it might not be our destroyer. He further proclaims, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV). Our Faith in Him, our personal relationship with our Lord, is our greatest weapon. Who could we be, even in our greatest state of human struggle, if we were trade any self-torture devices for that one all-powerful weapon?