We Were Promised Sufferings

Last week in my Book of Mormon class, we discussed very briefly the idea of suffering as it related to the war chapters in Alma.  It was a tangent really, and short-lived at that.  It was just long enough, however, to get the cogs turning and get me thinking about suffering.

Christ suffered.*  We suffer.  That's a lot of suffering.

...And at first glance it doesn't really make sense why there is so much suffering.  If Christ suffered for our sins, then why do we suffer for our sins?

I pondered this question a bit; I let it sit uncomfortably on my chest for a time.  I went to the Scriptures.  I found a lot of stories of suffering, but none of them answered my question.  On Thursday, when I was driving up to Salt Lake to replace my dropped-in-the-toilet iPhone, a thought came to me:

Maybe Christ suffered for our sins, and we suffer only to the extent that it helps us learn forces us to learn.  And if that is true, then a huge part of Christ's purpose in bringing us at-one with God is not about pain, but about learning and growing and becoming like Deity.  And if that's the case, there are huge implications about how we should regard the Atonement...about how we should look at our own trials wherein we suffer.

It could change everything.  It could make us more grateful for the opportunity to learn.  It could give us more context for our pain.  It could make us more willing to hand the pain part of suffering over to the Lord so that we can get on with the learning part of suffering.

Now, think about this passage from Doctrine and Covenants:
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.  (D&C 19:16–17)

*It is extremely important to me to explain here, for the record, that I treasure my understanding that the suffering part of Christ's Atonement is just one small part of it–that His mission included experiencing our joys as well as our pains, so that we might rejoice together at the last day.  Sometimes, I think, we focus too much on the doom and gloom of the Gospel–on the sins, the betrayals, the condemnation, the suffering–without also taking real and profound joy in the Good News that the Gospel was, is and will be.


Drew Magleby said...

Reminds me of Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-17. The whole section is pretty strong but if read right it is one of the most hopeful sections in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Have you ever read The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis?

Lauren Kay said...

I haven't read it, but I came across a few quotes from the book when I was doing research for this post. It's already on my Amazon wish list (and let's be honest: books don't stay on there very long before I break down and buy them). Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I only have time to ponder and write about one part of this this. I like your crossed out helps us learn for the forces us. I have a different perspective on this only because my course of study has been different. I have mentioned the Arbinger Institute to you and this is where I have gained most of my insight into althings frailties of man, and woman. Hope that made sense. I believe wording is very important but I have found that wording can't really be chosen, it chooses us. Meaning, our spirit will convey the truth about us(our mindset) whether we like it or not. There is a common statement among philosophers that says we react to how others feel towards us more than we react to what they say to us. In short, we can detect a fake or a truthteller by the vibes coming off that person. Ok, that may have been a tangent to what I was getting at but I love to explain a lot haha. I was not denouncing your choice of words in the sense that your words denotes something wrong inside. Ok, Im confusing myself hehe, I guess it is what it is right? So, wording, yes, so in Arbinger's materials they always use the word invite. I love this word because it always denotes agency, we have choice. So I would disagree with force because I know in my life I have chosen to not "get it" and in hindsight I have seen that I get the same trial over and over until I choose to submit and get it. In Arbinger, they state we invite others to be resistant(war against us) or to be responsive(coopperate with us) depending on how we are towards them. If our "way of being," as Arbinger puts in, is resistant to the person then we invite the same resistance back and same with being responsive towards them. So, we know there are two great motivating forces in this world, love and fear(aka hate anxiety hurt etc.) I would say love is connected with acting responsive and inviting the same and resistant is fear, don't we resist things we fear and respond to things we love. So I would say that Christ invites us with His love( a perfect love) to follow(responsive) Him and yes, sometimes He allows pain to be the mediam for which His invitations come to us but, still out of love, never force(fear). I would agree it can feel like force sometimes because the invitations, whether through pain or joy, never stop coming until we submit and give our will back to Him. But we still have choice through it all because He only invites, though as powerful as it may feel, with His love. This may be incomplete but I'm done for now. And, this has probably come off authoritatively but feel free to attack and find the flaws in it. Discussion leads to greater truth revealed. Again, thank you for your wonderful posts. Sam

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