Richard Rohr on Suffering

Van Gogh – Old Man in Sorrow

When I was young, I wanted to suffer for God. I pictured myself being the great and glorious martyr somewhere. There’s something so romantic about laying down your life for something great. I guess many young people might see themselves that way, but now I know it was mostly ego, but sort of good ego at that stage.

There is nothing glorious about any actual moment of suffering—when you’re in the midst of it. You swear it’s meaningless. You swear it has nothing to do with goodness or holiness or God—or you.

The very essence of any experience of trial is that you want to get out of it. A lack of purpose, of meaning—is the precise suffering of suffering! When you find a pattern in your suffering, a direction, you can accept it and go with it. The great suffering, the suffering of Jesus, is when that pattern is not immediately given. The soul can live without success, but it cannot live without meaning.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 86, day 94

Prayer: God, help me find You, even in suffering.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

One thought on “Richard Rohr on Suffering”

  1. I have connected this with altruism. To really give is to give something that you CANNOT normally live without, to someone who IS actually living without. The consequence is suffering, the meaning is your growing up through the whole process.
    Something hard to remember among everyday’s struggles and even harder to convince, yourself and others, of its compulsiveness, if you really crave wholeness.

    Anyway, welcome to Utopia-land 🙂


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