Toward the end of Chapter 10 of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller discusses the diversities of temperament involved in those experiencing adversity. Citing Simone Weil’s classic essay “The Love of God and Affliction”, Pastor Keller describes five facts of suffering observed by Ms. Weil:
1. Isolation. Following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, we suddenly sense a new gulf between us and anyone who hasn’t experienced our type of loss. Isolation also may be caused by friends who simply stay away, feel incompetent to help, or don’t want to admit that such severe adversity could come upon anyone.
2. Implosion. Intense pain can make us self-absorbed. Pastor Keller adds that suffering can make us and our needs the only real thing, while all other concerns become “vague, hazy, and unimportant.” Intellectually we may know that others love us and may even believe that God loves us, but we don’t have that feeling in our hearts.
3. Condemnation. The author notes that we usually don’t feel guilty when we do wrong. Under the pressure of great suffering, we may feel we’re being punished and admit wrongdoing in our lives.
4. Anger. Anger may be specific, focused on ourselves, at those who wronged us, or at God. In contrast, anger may be generalized against life’s injustice and emptiness.
5. Temptation. We may be tempted toward complicity, turning our soul into suffering’s accomplice. Pastor Keller states: “We become complicit with affliction, comfortable with our discomfort, content with our discontent.”
Today’s question: Which facet(s) of suffering best describe your response to your vocation loss? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Diversities of pathways”