In his insightful book “Man’s Search for Meaning” concentration camp survivor Victor Frankl said this:
- But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.
Recovery veterans will probably understand and recognize that suffering and courage are bedfellows in effective recovery programs. Without the courage to enter into new emotional pain and the suffering that comes from that, progress in dealing with compulsions and addictions does not happen.
12-Steppers will know this, in many of the Steps a person has to do something only they can do; step out in courage and suffer as they confess, ask for help, develop their inventory and make amends. This is why the encouragement, the putting of courage into others, of the group and the sponsor are so vital. Without the courage to go forward into new pain and suffering the individual will remain in their struggle and not see healing. Scripture says this:
1 Thess 5:11(a) – Encourage one another and build one another up.
One aspect of courageous suffering that rarely gets spoken about is the spiritual aspect, and yet it may be the most important factor in understanding the need for suffering. This is what God says:
Rom 5:3-5 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Suffering produces endurance, which then produces character, which then produces hope and in this changing of our inner person shame is removed from us through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is one way of defining healing; the removal of shame. And the removal of shame is meaningful because it changes us. We are changed from people who believe we are unworthy to people who believe God loves us, that we are valuable to Him.
So then do you believe Frankl was right? Is there no greater courage than the courage to suffer willingly?
Talk about your choice or choices to suffer, to endure new pain. Was it worth it? Did your journey give you a sense of meaning in your life that was missing before? Are you able to experientially encourage others to choose the path of suffering in order to gain meaning from their troubles and receive some measure of healing?