The Gift of Sadness (Part 6)

So attachments lead to suffering, or sadness. Maybe that’s ok. Maybe that could even be a good thing. Again, the whole basis of our discussion is that sadness can be a gift. (think old guy in the back of church yelling “Amen” to a sermon on suffering).

It’s not masochism, but it may be related. Masochism actually enjoys and longs for more pain. What I am suggesting is that we don’t avoid sadness or pain (not that we long for it). And as we endure it and its trials we find strength.

The old verse oft quoted in urban churches, “pain comes for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30.5) may get to it. In other words, “this is going to hurt, it really will. But only for a time. It’s worth enduring for what’s on the other side.”

So we learn to give sadness context. We know it comes with trials. We know trials build character. We know character is a very good thing. There are no shortcuts to producing character. It is etched in the halls of enduring struggle.

But it doesn’t feel good when its happening. And we are a culture very sensitive to our feelings. We are probably too aware of our feelings. Being mindful of your feelings (Jedi talk) is one thing, being controlled and manipulated by them another.

What the Jedi’s refer to as feelings is almost an intensely trained intuition. Remember they are taught and trained not to fear, to meditate, to clear their mind, to focus. That assumes emotions are being trained, feelings are in their rightful place.

To the untrained novice who minds his feelings it may not turn out so well. Not that our feelings are necessarily mischievous, but they sometimes will over-accentuate our current reality. “This hurts, it really hurts.” True, but for a gain down the road.

Our bodies when working out get “trained” to understand this. They will be challenge, pulled, strained, etc. but then given the proper nutrition and rest time to heal and strengthen. So our feelings can be trained to endure hardships.

And this is the pattern: “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.” The suffering here is not self-inflicted agonizing or reaping from bad decisions, it is the kind of suffering good people ache down deep.

It is probably better understood as longing. It can be aroused by normal setbacks and frustrations, the complications of good things moving forward, physical fatigue, any experience of things that keep faith dreams from blossoming into realities.

But enduring such set backs with grace (suffering or longing in the purest sense) builds a kind of muscle within. It produces a determination to withstand such obstacles and to push through the mundane. That is perseverance in the true sense.

Once we develop this muscle we begin to see the cyclical patterns of real growth. There are no straight lines in progress. We bump into ourselves constantly but hope is knowing that despite it all this thing is moving forward. We will make it!