Legitimate Suffering, Legitimate Grace

The most common substitute for the legitimate suffering of the self is the illegitimate suffering of others.

…human beings who try to avoid changing themselves… always set out on a destructive course to change the world, others, or even God.

~ Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr

Some of us respond to pain by taking every bad thing on board, believing ourselves worthless. Some of us respond to pain by exacting it on others. Some of us do both at the same time. Some switch from one to the other. They’re both human responses to pain – possibly even to the human condition. Jesus did not. He turned the world on its head when He willingly, consciously, conscientiously took the pain of all the world and bore it into the grave. In doing so He made it possible for us to say I don’t have to be like that any more. This is Grace, freely given.

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19 (The Life with God Bible NRSV)

4 thoughts on “Legitimate Suffering, Legitimate Grace

        • Yes and no. Pain is not the same as suffering. Extremes of suffering are not just to be endured – one might as well say that victims of abuse ought to learn to put up with it. Learning to live within a realistic world view (legitimate suffering) is not the same as passively allowing sin, particularly in the form of illegitimate suffering (abuse, war, oppression, etc.). It does mean living a life of light in a world of darkness. And we can’t do this alone – we *need* Christ (which is the point Rohr makes in today’s Lenten thingy – he’s a very good writer).

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