The Gift of Suffering

“Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart may be gladdened.” (The Preacher 7:3)

What did the Preacher mean by these words?
He wished to explain that when suffering humans tend to look within. The proclivity is to gaze inwards and analyse one’s behaviour; one’s reaction to life’s vicissitudes and what can be done to escape the unpleasant state of mind. From this analysis one’s thoughts are fast-forwarded to more preeminent questions: who I am? Why am I here? Where do I go from here?
In suffering one can reach enlightenment (the Truth). And this is certainly a gift.

Buddha said that everything is suffering. It is ineluctable: we are born suffering (crying) and in the midst of suffering (pain of contractions); we grow and develop in sufferance (our needs, wants and consequent disappointments); we suffer as adults and decease in pain (attachment, delusion and clinging to life).
The Buddhist philosophy suggests that ceasing suffering will lead to “understanding the truth about all things”, however since suffering is ceaseless, I’d say that by following the Eightfold Path one is led to turn inwards, behold its true Self and thus reach the Truth.
Wisdom (the Right View and Intention), Ethical Conduct (the Right Speech, Action & Livelihood) and Mental Development (the Right Effort, Mindfulness & Concentration [acquired thru meditation]) represent not a way out to suffering, yet they represent vital tools to face and deal with this inevitability.

Suffering builds character if one makes the right choice when experiencing it: should one yield to it and open the door to self-commiseration and victimisation; or should one grab sufferance by its horns, fight, defeat it and keep on walking?

It is up to people to decide whether suffering is a gift or a curse.

LS bestows upon you the Gift of Suffering: Here


  1. Hello Max,

    Oh you used Ecclesiastes 7:3, I considered that verse also in my development of my article...

    However my conclusion is a bit different than yours...I think you place a rather heavier emphasis upon mind and introspection than the verse indicates (we are more than our mere minds). The usage of the word “heart” connotes more than emotion as well. The word translated as heart from the Hebrew can also mean life of very life (however I suspect you know this?) Certainly we frequently learn more during the crucible of suffering than is typical of times of plenty. Although one could say that in an overarching way wisdom (the application of knowledge) is in the picture but it is not at the core of the verse and “enlightenment” in for example a Buddhist way of thought is nowhere to be seen...after all neither suffering or laughter are the Middle Path...the Path of Nil as I think of it...

    “Buddha said that everything is suffering.”

    - - Ohhh interesting I had not read on as I was writing along the way and here you talk about “Buddha”!!!! A person would think that we have spoken of these things before! LOL Personally I find the teachings of Buddha (if he ever lived or even said the things attributed to him) to be rampant nonsense. There is clearly more to life than suffering, Buddhism is for the cup is half empty crowd and I am not among them...I have suffered, and indeed suffer yet there is enormous joy to behold in life...The answer does not lay within but without...we are the problem and not the answer...the morality rules of Buddhism lack legitimate authority... Buddha is just another dead philosopher such as Socrates...but not as smart...

    Great points on suffering and character! Life is an opportunity and attitude is a huge component of making healthy choices. I like the way you tagged the article at the end with “gift” or “curse”. It line sup in an interesting way with my article which suggests the way out of the “curse” is thru the “gift”....

    It is unfair how you can pack so much into so few words...nicely done wordsmith...

  2. Hey Max, what a timely post for me as I am just getting back into blogging, check out our first recorded song on my blog, all about a person going through tribulation and making the right choice.

    A couple of my favorite verses, which I have kept in my pocket for over a year are Romans 5:3,4...
    "And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.

    A wise man once said to me, "We who suffer are actually quite lucky for it builds character and draws us closer to God more so then the person who doesn't go through them"...oh wait that was Livingsword when I met him in Vancouver, thanks Livingsword.

    I have learned so much about myself and have grown as a person because of suffering, gotten so close to God, know him as a personal friend now, what love to send his only son to die on a cross for us, I could go on for hours about the things he has done for me, people he has put in my path and situations that are just plain to amazing to explain any other way then initiated by God, and let me tell you you are so right about those 3 questions at the beginning of your post, "Who am I?", Why am I here? and "Where do I go from here? are the exact questions I asked myself, and God supplied all the answers, never would have guessed the answers I received, great post Max.

  3. Suffering makes us human... so I guess I'll take it. Whenever there is comfort there is pain.

  4. Hi Max,

    Great title.

    I don't think we need to suffer to experience joy. But it all depends on how you define suffering. (The short answer) To me, suffering is attachment and when we detach there is no suffering.

    By the same token, attachment is good, it helps us have immediate joy and when the attachment is taken away, the mind suffers, but our soul is suffer-free. When we feel a part of God, we are suffer-free.

    Suffer-free Cheers!

  5. I will have to just be an observer on this one, since I don't think I really know what suffering is. There was a bit of struggle now and then, and some upset due to immaturity, but other than that, I can't think of anything that qualifies as suffering.

    On the other hand, there was the church retreat where they made us write poetry ...

  6. Interesting. I understand what is said about suffering and I am of the mind that one does not have to suffer to turn inward. Yes, many do not turn inward until they are forced to by suffering, however this is a choice. As we awaken we learn that while pain may not be an option, to suffer is indeed a choice. I suggest we remember to turn inward as a matter of being not as a matter of being forced to by response to circumstances we create.

  7. Hi! In my books laughter is the best medicine by far.

    Physical and mental suffering can be fleeting or everlasting and what we take from their repercussions can either make us stronger or led us to wallow in self-pity.

    Fervently looking for answers or who is to blame for our plight is one way to deal with this, but in the end we need closure so we can move on to cement the relationships with the ones that matter most, including you know who above, and, to make the most out of what time we have left, no matter what cards we have been dealt.

    Take Care,

  8. Max,
    Suffering makes us better, and makes us look at the life different way, like real humans.

    Its good in some way ... we learn from experience.

    Anna :)


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