Monday, January 02, 2006

Suffering Part 2

I have been struggling with the concept of suffering for many years, even before Nechama Liba got sick. Even in the case of a bereaved parent where pain never goes away, perhaps whether or not to wallow in grief is a choice that we all have.

I guess it might be more appropriate to say that "whether to allow the suffering to control my life is a choice".

Perhaps, I could be accused of being engaged in a "faith of convenience" but I live with hopes and dreams of being reunited with my child in the "Next World". I breathe based upon the idea that somehow there is meaning to the suffering. In the meantime, I pray that Moshiach will be here soon. I can't imagine the pain of someone who lives without these beliefs. On the other hand, on some level each mitzvah is a mini-struggle . Like Yaakov with the malach of Esav. Every mitzvah contains an element of Lishmah [doing mitzvos for G-ds sake alone] because, when I wrap my tefillin or shake a lulav, I need to confront a G-d who took away my child. I am commanded to love him and embrace him. My daughter was able to do that even though she realized that she would die from her illness. I draw strength from her. It keeps me connected. I believe in my heart that someday this will all make sense. But it won’t be in this world of smoke and clouds.

The next world is called the “Olam HaEmes”. The World of Truth. I pray that I will have the strength to endure the pain until I get there. I deal with people who suffer on a daily basis. I am zoche to be in the presence of some pretty amazing people, both young and old and nothing stops them. But we can only imagine what they have to endure on a daily basis. The fear, pain and daily confrontations. But they take it all in stride and are determined not to let anything get in their way. I draw strength from being around them. I can't let my challenges cripple me if I expect them to overcome theirs.

Years ago, on a typical shabbos night, I asked myself why Hashem chose to give his people such suffering. It was dark in the room which hid the teardrop that was rolling down my cheek. I spent the next 25+ hours trying to imagine how G-d could give so much suffering. How could Hashem proclaim a lifelong decree? How could G-d do this? It wasn’t until the next night that it came to me that although G-d gives us great challenges, yet suffering is a state of mind.

We can't help but feel the pain but as long as we live, we can choose to let it cripple us or use it as a springboard to drive us to be better people. No doubt the loss of a child changes us forever. I often think of a bereaved parent as analogous to someone who was permanently injured in a car accident. He will never to be the same again. Needing significant rehabilitation. His injuries are a constant reminder. But yet, he is given the choice to remain nothing more than a cripple, chas vashalom, or "rise to the occasion". May G-d give us the strength.

The expression of "Suffering is a state of mind" gives me some sense of control.
But it doesn't heal the pain.


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