Friday, May 04, 2007


One of the things I've been thinking about in my post-trip processing, is the need to correctly understand the suffering for which we are compassionate towards. I think a vastly different culture and lifestyle can easily be confused for suffering; we confuse compassion for what should just be fascination. There are many things about other cultures which are not suffering - they are just different (cooking on the ground, washing clothes by hand in the river, etc.). We tend to believe the lie God's goal for us all is to be comfortable, and our goal for others is that they would have a lifestyle that is as comfortable as ours. Not that we should want people to NOT be comfortable, I just think we tend to use the goal of comfort as an idol, and perhaps much of our own comfort-seeking is sinful. I think it's interesting that many of these lifestyle differences that we see are so similar to how life would have been lived in Jesus' day - and it was just fine and acceptable. These are not things he takes issue with in the Bible.

To clarify my thinking about this, I wanted to define suffering. Is this defined in the Bible anywhere, or just described? I can't think of a specific definition. I was thinking that suffering is the lack of fullness of life that Jesus talks of. So, then I wanted to define "fullness of life" - again, this gets talked of often, but I don't think I've ever heard it defined. This is interesting to me because it needs to be something that only Jesus can truly fulfill, but something we can strive for. So, I was thinking that the fullness of life would be experienced when the effects of sin (broken relationships between people, between people and the earth, and between people and God) are removed and these relationships are restored.

This definition would work (by my thinking) in that only God can fully achieve this, but that we can try to restore these relationships to some extent - as much as we are able in our fallen world. It encompasses both physical and spiritual suffering, but also shows how physical suffering is a spiritual effect.

What do you think of these definitions? Do you think this is right thinking?

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