Love sweetens pains; and when one loves GOD, one suffers for His sake with joy and courage. (-Br. Lawrence)
O.K., Br. Lawrence, I've been with you up to this point, but today I can't accompany you to this conclusion. I understand what you are saying, sure. I preached on something very similar just this morning. But I'm convinced that love does not always sweeten pain. In fact, I am quite certain, love increases pain, deepens it, make its sting that much sharper and more bitter.
Consider this: it is the ones we love that are able to hurt us the most. I am less hurt by the comments of people I don't know for the sheer fact that I don't know them - their opinions don't matter that much. For those that I love deeply, however, the pain I feel from them (or because of them) cuts to the very heart of who I am.
As a case in point, take some of the survivors of the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel, survivor of the death camps at Auschwitz, has written very eloquently about how his love for God only served to intensify the pain because of God's apparent absence in the midst of his great suffering. (For an example of such writing, see Wiesel's "A Prayer for the Days of Awe.") When God seems to be absent in our suffering, the suffering deepens, not because we don't believe, but because we do in fact believe. The reality is often this: the more we believe, the more we love God, the greater the suffering.
Unlike how you present it, Br. Lawrence, this is not always a black and white issue. There are times, as you say, that we can endure suffering because we feel (as Mary Stevenson's poem "Footprints In the Sand" suggests) that God is "carrying us." Yet, there are also times that God's seeming absence intensifies our suffering greatly. Sometimes suffering leads to joy. Sometimes not. I'm just asking that we be honest.
What has been your experience?
Ecclesia Writer's Consortium
We are blessed at Ecclesia to have a number of gifted writers and teachers. Here, you'll find devotions, meditations, and musings from a sample of those writers.