From time to time when there is tragedy in the world or in our lives, we hear a lot of how what perspective we ‘should’ take on it. The following passage from “How People Grow” by Henry Cloud talks about the different kinds of suffering we can experience in our lives, and the important distinction between destructive suffering and therapeutic suffering. Have you been mugged? Or have you been in surgery?
“Certain suffering tears down aspects of our character that need to be torn down and builds up new aspects that we need in order to live as we were designed to live. So suffering can be good. It can take us to places where one more season of “comfort” cannot.
“But suffering can also be terrible. Some suffering is not a “wound… to heal.” Such suffering inflicts evil on a person’s heart and soul and is totally outside God’s desire. Although God can bring good out of the experience, the experience itself is no good at all.
“I sometimes use this analogy when I speak: “If one of you walked out of this meeting and a guy with a mask walked up to you in the dark parking lot, took out a knife, stabbed you in the stomach, took all your money, and left you in an unconscious state, you would call him a mugger. Someone would call the police, and they would try to find the perpetrator.
” “But if you left this meeting, drove down the street to the local hospital, and a guy with a mask came to you in a brightly lit room, took out a knife, cut your stomach open, took all your money, and left you in an unconscious state, you would call him a doctor and thank him for helping you. One is a mugging, and the other is surgery.”
“Suffering is a lot like that. There is therapeutic suffering, and there is destructive suffering at the hands of evil people. The key is to be able to tell the difference between the two and to apply the right kind of experience to each. Too often in the church those who have been “mugged” have been told that God is trying to teach them a lesson or that what they are going through is a result of their own sin or that it is part of the growth process.”
Henry Cloud in “How People Grow” page 207