Suffering happens to everyone. It’s a part of life. We all experience it in various capacities. Whether our suffering is due to loss, loneliness, depression, persecution or scorn, it’s inescapable. Although we may not be able to avoid suffering, we can react to it. And it’s how we react to it that makes all the difference.
I understand that it’s not easy to listen to reason or be open to advice when you’re in the middle of suffering. But if you absorb the following tips at a time when you’re feeling okay, you’ll be more open to the suggestions and understand each point objectively. Later, when suffering does come your way, you’ll hopefully remember these points and allow them to comfort you and soften the pain. That’s my desire and my prayer!
Let me also be clear that this discussion is on suffering that is out of our control—not deliberate, self-inflicted suffering, since no good comes out of that.
So, here are 10 ways to cope with suffering.
- Realize that no one escapes the cross. Everybody suffers in one way or another, and some suffer more than others. Even the most holy of people have suffered extensively. Mother Teresa suffered from depression. Pope John Paul II suffered extensively with loss and illnesses, and was even shot. And then there was Jesus Christ.
- Don’t doubt God in moments of suffering. Don’t ever believe that your suffering is an indication that God doesn’t love you. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
- Don’t try to understand the depths of suffering. Just as we cannot fathom the depths of God’s love for us, we’ll just never be able to get our mind around the truth of suffering.
- Understand that there is a reason for it. We may not be aware of the reason until later in life. Or we may never see it, as the reason may be applicable to another person.
- Accept the suffering. I know! Sounds crazy, right? It’s difficult to recognize that while in the midst of suffering, we worsen the experience by adding negative emotions to it, such as bitterness, anger, frustration and sadness. We need to push those negative emotions aside and replace them with patience and calm. In doing so, the feeling of suffering won’t be compounded by the other negative feelings.
- Don’t let it consume you. This is not an easy thing to do. But when suffering consumes you, you get lost in it, and it’s not easy to find God when you’re lost in your suffering.
- Read your bible, especially The Book of Job. If there ever was a man who suffered, it was Job. But even throughout his trial, he never lost faith and his love for God continued.
- See the good that comes from suffering. Again…I know! See the good? Yes! See the good. Suffering comes to us in many forms and sometimes it’s meant to open our eyes to truth—whether it happens to us so that we can reevaluate our own lives or it afflicts someone we know so that we can reach out. When tragedies such as natural disasters occur, it causes people to put their selfish desires aside and help each other. And let’s not forget the good that came from Christ’s suffering…our salvation!
- Watch The Passion of the Christ. “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” Those were Christ’s words in the garden of Gethsemane. He knew what was supposed to happen, but He was afraid. Remember the pain of the whippings he received, carrying the cross, being nailed to the cross, His feeling of being forsaken by His Father, His feelings of rejection and pain. “My God, my God,” Jesus called out to His Father, “why have you abandoned me?” Sure, He was God, but He was experiencing extreme anguish as a man. So, when we suffer, we are sharing in Christ’s passion.
- Pray that God sends the grace to help you overcome the suffering. Look to Him for strength. You cannot overcome any form of suffering without God. He will pull you out of the pit of suffering and open your eyes to its truth. Call out to Him and never lose your faith!
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Ladies, do you have a tip on how to cope with suffering?