Letters to Jesus (Contrary Spiritual Notions) - 12
I do not question the impact of suffering in our lives. It is a great teacher. There is no doubt in my mind that we learn best through what we suffer. Many Christians would probably describe “sacrifice” as self-imposed suffering. Sacrifice is willed. It is chosen. I’m sure we grow from it. But since it is willed and chosen there likely is some ego involved. The “self” is ubiquitous. If we choose to sacrifice, to deny ourselves something for the love of another, we grow and learn from the discomfort and suffering we experience. But the whole event is of our construction. It is good. But better is the ego-free situation of un-asked-for suffering.
The way we deal with pain, discomfort, and suffering when it blindsides us is the most fertile soil for selfless growth. Yet, unfortunately, such times can also be our downfall. Here choice and the will are involved in a different way. We did not pick or construct the situation for ourselves and our growth. Rather, it just happens to us. We have no choice that it happens. What we do have is a choice of what we do with it. We did not choose it but we can will to accept it. This positions us squarely in harmony with Your suffering and death – not chosen, but willingly accepted. There is no self-interest here. The worf "sacrifice" comes from two Latin words that mean "to make holy."
We are reluctant about facing such times squarely. We try to avoid them. We wish there were alternatives and we seek them. But embracing these times and growing from them willingly is the very best thing to do. In our willingness to accept unexpected suffering and/or discomfort the “self” recedes and diminished enough to let in a little more love.