Suffering is so much more than a feeling or an affliction. Suffering is a teacher and it has many counterparts that provides us with the lessons that it imparts unto us.
One of the greatest benefits I have received from suffering has been patience. The impartation of patience has not been an easy or stress-free lesson for me to learn. For in order to obtain patience, once has to be placed into the position of needing patience and that requires circumstances that calls forth patience.
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset and without complaint. That was quite a hard lesson for me to learn. For throughout my life of suffering, there were times when I complained a lot in my heart. Complained because of the pain itself, complained because of the unfairness of the suffering, complained because others seemed to be escaping the pain that seemed to ravage my soul and body on a daily basis and I became quite disenchanted with the concept of suffering and especially patience. The more I complained, the worse my cirumstances and state of mind became and I realized that I must do something different with my mindset and circumstances lest I become forever defested. And defeated was something that I determined that I would never be, no matter the circumstance of life or my body.
In order to achieve something I did not have, it was necessary for me to do something that I had not been doing before. So I purposed within myself that I WOULD NOT COMPLAIN, no matter what transpired in my life. When disappointment struck, I struck back with an attitude of gratitude and began being grateful for what I had and what I could do and began to focus only on those things. An interesting thing began to happen to me in the midst of these things. All of a sudden, patience began to give birth within me. The more I gave thanks at whatever I found myself in, the more patience I felt within me. After a while, I was able to bear up under incredibly difficult burdens and happenstances that occurred in my life on an almost regular schedule. But rather than being upset or agitated by my circumstances, I began to see the good that is in life and in my own life in particular. I began to experience true peace. Peace that was not dependent upon what was happening to my life and to my body, but peace that transcended all the trappings of a life of solitude and pain, and I discovered that I am so much more than what my body says I am. Than what my station in life says that I am.
Patience gave me the ability to withstand all the assaults of boredom, irritation, pain, and confusion that being a person imprisoned within one’s body is afflicted with on a daily basis. I was able to see the outcome of my daily battles instead of the conflicts that I fought with. I could view life from the perspective of the victor and not the victim of my life. And for that, I have suffering to thank. For, if not for this suffering, I would not have learned the patience that in the end has come to sustain me and teach me other lessons that I would not have been able to receive had I still been in a position of complaint and ingratitude.
One can only learn patience by being placed in places and circumstances that require it. It can come no other way. But once this great lesson is learned by this teacher, the benefits are far-reaching and life-changing.
Suffering teaches…patience. I thank God for this teacher’s aide.