Friday, June 15, 2007

To Suffer Loss, or Gain Suffering?

A house in our neighborhood burned down today. I was alerted to the fire by my wife who, while out running errands, saw the smoke and phoned. Curious I stepped out the front door to check it out, and sure enough there it was. A plume of smoke was rising out of the neighborhood near by, and I watched for a moment before returning to the air-conditioned comfort of my living room. I was convinced there was nothing I could do.

But my heart hearkened back to an era when the smoke would have elicited a different response from me. A time when the smoke would have drawn me to the scene, not as a sight seer, but as a much needed hand in fire fighting, or to assist in some other way. After extinguishing the fire there would've been an opportunity to assist in other ways and there would have probably been a house raising as well. Today if I had gone to help I would've been told by the fire department professionals to stay behind the yellow tape. The house will more than likely be rebuilt by an insurance company, so there won't be any house raising. That will be done by the professionals versed in construction and the myriad details of building code. So ultimately I can happily go about my business without having to be bothered by it at all.

Such is the luxury of living in the modern world in a modern culture. As a society, for the time being anyway, we have successfully put suffering at arms length. But I can't help but wonder if the price humanity has paid to avoid suffering is not higher than the price of suffering itself. Even as I consider this article, my honest response is telling. I cringe and recoil at the thought of being bothered and imposed upon by my neighbor's woes, and I have no youthful fantasies about suffering with my neighbor either. I also know enough about suffering to understand that there's a reason why modern man goes to great lengths to eliminate it from the realm of his existence. But still this event has given me cause to feel somewhat plagued by the loss of something; something that can only be gained, I fear, through suffering.

12 comments:

Frasypoo said...

Its sad but I guess we retreat to a selfish part....

Pat Jenkins said...

dw, so true, do the amish have something on us by all shareing in the pain, and relief of a community? that is for debate, huh!!

danny wright said...

Poo- I think we do indeed

Pat- I think it's a debate that takes place, if at all, within our own soul.

Jon said...

Danny,

I have been feeling the same way for some time. It's very sad for that family to have lost their home, for sure. But the New Testament makes it very clear that if we follow Jesus, we will suffer for it. Furthermore, we are to rejoice when we suffer for Christ! I have to wonder what would happen to the American church if we had to suffer like the early Christians did. I wonder if it wouldn't be the best thing for us.
Is it bad for me to wish suffering upon the American church, though? I don't know what to do with this.

danny wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina said...

Jon, I have the same thoughts often.
The early church suffered so much, and yet they had such a peace and joy. It is when we suffer that we go deeper with God. Ask me, I know all about it. :) But I would not trade all my suffering for anything in the world.

WomanHonorThyself said...

youre right...the alienation is profound at times...........thanks for visitin my site btw!

Incognito said...

Suffering and adversity certainly make us stronger.

I think some of that hesitancy to help comes with age and not having the energy to actively help. I'm more for giving monetary and emotional aide, if needed, than physical aide.

danny wright said...

Incog, that has been one of my thoughts as well.

donsands said...

"that can only be gained, I fear, through suffering."

The Apostle Paul said, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain!"

Livingsword said...

Nobody likes the “gifts” of pain and suffering. I for one do not enjoy pain. But I have to concur with earlier comments. Suffering and pain have drawn me closer to God, and I would say that is true for most of the people I know. Why is it that the Church is growing so fast in parts of the world with endemic suffering and pain, but we in the west are complacent and the Church is often watered down? How often do I walk the walk and not just talk the talk?

Pat Jenkins said...

dw, i have tagged, i must reveal seven things of myself, i pass this tag onto you!! i look forward to some dirt!!