“… An individual needs suffering and misfortune: they compel the deepening of the inner life and generate a spiritual upsurge.” ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
The Gulag Archipelago is required reading in Russia. It is the account of one man’s victory over unbelievably horrible circumstances, and his journey to a spiritual freedom and power that is only achieved through suffering.
I read this book in the middle of trying to make sense of my midlife divorce, and it had a powerful affect on me. None of us like to suffer. It’s challenging, and agonizing, and often seems undeserved. But it is absolutely amazing how our suffering leads us to, as Solzhenitsyn puts it, “a deepening of the inner life and an amazing spiritual upsurge.”
We all want the easy road, the pleasant walk through life; comfort. Most of us have been blessed with abundantly more than enough of everything. But the truth of the matter is, the more comfortable we are, the harder it is for spiritual growth to happen. We don’t have to really work our spiritual muscles when life is easy.
Rejoicing In Suffering
A midlife divorce changes everything in an instant. Life becomes more difficult than we could have ever imagined. I railed against my suffering; I hated it. I cried, yelled and complained about it. But having survived my divorce, I now understand the apostle Paul’s advice to rejoice in suffering.
My divorce has been the seed of my greatest spiritual growth as a Christian woman. It has been the catalyst for a deeper relationship with God and with community.
Even though I wish I could have learned those lessons in a less painful way, this was the way God chose. Use your suffering to learn the amazingly beautiful and empowering lessons God wants to display in your life. He will not waste your suffering!
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” Said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” ~ John 9:1-3 (NIV)