Saturday, July 07, 2007

Two Kinds of Suffering

I was thinking today about the "buy now, pay later" mentality that seems to predominate American consumerism. The implication is that it is more important for the decisions that we make to gratify us today without care as to the consequences for the future. Realizing the lack of fulfillment in our lives, we perpetuate the cycle only to find that our deepest longings are never fulfilled.
It seems as though decision-based suffering could be generally placed into two categories. The first suffering is a disciplined suffering that does not allow gratification in the moment because there is something to be won in the future that is so much better. The second suffering comes from making decisions that give immediate gratification but never lasting fulfillment; it is a suffering of the consequences of poor judgment.

To me the distinction between these two categories is huge. In the first instance, hope is born, character is strengthened, others are placed before self and the present is submitted to the eternal. In the second instance, the idolization of the moment kills all possibility of hope and despair breeds discontent.

I reflect on these things only to realize that one of my dearest hopes in this life is to learn to bear any momentary hardships with patience and joy for the sake of what is right and good. It is this suffering that I believe the Scriptures speak: And suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts. (Romans 5:3-5)