We all suffer in this life. Some more, others less, but no one escapes. What do you do with suffering? Let’s think together about this subject and how you can start to see your pains in a different light.
In this life, we all have struggles, disappointments, and suffering. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t gone through, or who isn’t currently experiencing some kind of struggle, be it financial, family, personal, emotional, physical, or even spiritual. Of course, and unfortunately, we have trials, but thankfully, Jesus promised to set an end to our trials when he will return in his glory.
Mental health does not mean having an absolute absence of emotional pain, such as sadness, anxiety, or fear. A person with good mental health has some moments of sadness, suffers anguish, and experiences some fears within the context of situations that provoke these painful feelings. Even the most successful people, famous or not, went through or are going through trials.
When we look at most famous people, we often look at their appearance or the outside, and wonder if they suffer too, since what they report in the media, on TV shows, radio, and social media suggests that they live a wonderful life, filled with goodies. But behind the scenes of their show, there are struggles, depression, excessive anxiety, divorces, drug involvement, unhealthy sexual practices, and a lot of pain.
In the face of emotional suffering, there is a danger of using medication to deal with unpleasant feelings instead of reflecting on their meaning and understanding where they come from. A good part of the population is being medicated with psychiatric drugs.
This happens because there seems to be a lack of conscious elaboration of suffering, that is, the person avoids thinking about their pain, trying to understand: “Where does it come from? What does it mean?” and prefers taking a pill without thinking about anything else. I’m not saying you should never use psychiatric medications. However, many who want to function well in life, at work, and with their family, resort to pills, prioritizing the search for an emotional improvement, placing exaggerated and perhaps mistaken hope for a cure in pills.
They do this because they need to move on with life, as they still do not know how to deal with pain in a functional and effective way through psychoeducation, which means learning to deal with emotions, especially the painful or unpleasant ones that produce and cause pain.
If you pay attention, you’ll see that some trials come to destroy your life, it’s true, but you can learn to face them as an opportunity to mature. It will help a lot to change the way you handle painful situations in your life if you change the question from “Why is this happening to me” to “What can I learn from this painful situation”?
Of course, in pain you experience sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, and fear, because that is part of the loss, the conflict, and the approval. But as soon as possible, it’s important to change the question and start reflecting on what this difficult situation you’re going through can teach you. What can you learn from this?
I like a text written by Ellen White:
God’s power is constantly exercised to counteract the agencies of evil; He is ever at work among men, not for their destruction, but for their correction and preservation.Ellen White, Patriarcs and Prophets, p. 694
She is saying what throughout biblical history is revealed about God’s dealing with humanity, which is a combination of justice and mercy, always predominating mercy.
Traumatic experiences, be it a traffic accident, a financial loss, a divorce, complicated marital conflicts, the death of a loved one, disappointment with someone, marital infidelity, job loss, or harassment at work, all of that we can use to strengthen us. It depends on how we look at these traumas, it depends on the support network to deal with them, on the conscious intention to learn from suffering, and on the strength to face all that can come from God, the creator of the universe.
Trials come to everyone at different times in life; some more devastating, some less. But in all of them, we can see there is strength to face them, even if you have to temporarily go through depression or excessive anxiety in any clinical manifestation.
Life is not easy. Religions that promise an easy life, full of material prosperity and the absence of suffering, are preaching falsehood. The head of Christianity, Jesus Christ, told those who were following him and those who would follow them in the future:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Jesus said that it would be possible not to get discouraged by clinging to Him, who has overcome all the trials we have experienced or will still experience. Taking a general look at the biblical text, seeing the experiences of those characters who went through many and severe trials and surrendered themselves to God, it is neither fair nor true to say that following Jesus guarantees financial success and the absence of problems.
There are no easy answers to the problem of suffering in humanity, a topic studied by thinkers, philosophers, and psychologists. We know that there is a conflict between good and evil that affects all dimensions of society and also affects us. Suffering exists even for people who are more consecrated and who practice good spirituality.
The sufferings of today may serve to prepare us, to strengthen us for the trials that lie ahead; and they will come. The world will speak of peace and prosperity, but God says in His Word that in this end time that we are living in, there will be anguish, such as never was before, and much destruction of good morals, peace, and freedom, which is what we have already begun to see and experience.
Regardless of this, and despite this, it is possible to have peace and even inner personal joy, as long as you are not thinking and focusing on the difficulties, but changing your eyes to the promises of help that God has made in His word, clinging to Him through faith. It is possible to develop serenity in the face of conflicts, if we turn to prayer to the Lord, as long as it is sincere, persevering, conscious, thoughtful, and believing that God is listening to us and helping us.
Finding peace in the midst of conflict depends on where you place your hope. It depends on your concept of the meaning of this existence and a good understanding of the spiritual war between good and evil. It depends on what you do with your pain or what you allow it to do to you. It depends on personal psychological and spiritual resources that, if they are weak or insufficient, God will strengthen them. It depends on the family and social support you have, and especially on faith that your Creator is kind to you, who is attentive to your suffering and doing his best to preserve your mental and spiritual sanity and your physical life.
Believe that God is not distracted to be unaware of your suffering. Believe that he is even now providing solutions for you, even if it is inner peace, despite the conflicts. Reflect on that. Believe in a kind God, surrender to Him, and pray to Him. That way you can face your pain in a more positive way.
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Dr. Cesar Vasconcellos de Souza is working as a psychiatrist and international speaker. He is author of 3 books, columnist of the health magazine “Vida e Saúde” for 25 years, and has a regular program on the “Novo Tempo” TV channel.