Suffering and Hope

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering – Viktor E. Frankl

I came across a poem by Damien Barr, which goes along the lines of “We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat”. It got me thinking about each experience that we face that is unique to us and, on the other hand, how certain experiences are universal, like grief, loss, love, suffering and hope, just to name a few. Perhaps we must hold this in mind when we are going through a storm or know someone who is. Because our stories are uniquely ours, and our experience allows us to empathise with each other and share in our humanity.

My guess is suffering is an unpopular topic because, let’s face it, if we could choose the road of less resistance and get the same results, would we? Life gives us many experiences, some pleasant and some unpleasant, while our choices can pave the way for us. Still, sometimes the path is paved for us and then what?

Suffering is not something that we can truly avoid in life. Perhaps the more we try to distance ourselves from suffering, the more we suffer because it’s the reality of life, and doing so removes us from being present. So why even bring up the topic of suffering on this beautiful day when we can talk about so many other topics? I wonder if we don’t acknowledge suffering, we cannot experience joy and happiness and the like because when we try to shut suffering off, we shut it all off.

I think it is fair to say that Covid has caused a sense of suffering in all our lives, whether big, small and everything in between. We must stop and acknowledge that life can be challenging because if we don’t, who are we kidding? Like many things in life, there are usually two sides to the coin and possibly more. While we don’t dwell and reside in the valley of suffering, we make our way through it by discovering a solution to end it or come to a sense of acceptance and rewrite the meaning we attach to it. Let me add easier said than done but necessary if we want to travel forward.

Through suffering, new beginnings can be birthed, an appreciation for the little joys that life brings and my favourite, a sense of purpose. But how do we get there? Hope! Perhaps hope has been associated with a lack of action and wishful thinking; however, I wonder if there is more to hope than we give credit for. What if hope is intentional and requires a response to set our gaze forward. Hope is the bridge that we build one action and one thought at a time beyond our current circumstances. Sometimes we don’t have it in us, and we need to loan hope from each other. Maybe that is what it truly means to come along each other. What does hope mean to you?

On a finishing note, we remind ourselves how far we have already come and all the challenges we have already navigated. While it might look and feel different, you have come through so much already. Remind yourself of this and to those who may need some encouragement. While our boats are different, the storm is the same. A friendly reminder to be kind to yourself and until next time, take care.