Life comes at a great cost. Whether it is suffering from loneliness to suffering physical and psychological turmoil, no one is exempt from hardships. Nonetheless, those who endure suffering have something unique in common—they know the agony. As victims of hard times, these “wounded healers” as they are often called, can use their own experiences not only to help and guide others in turmoil, they can also provide a path of escape for such people.
In The Wounded Healer, author Henri Nouwen explores this topic into great depth as he contemplates the reason behind suffering. With much pondering, he concludes that man is allowed to undergo hardships so that he, in turn, can be a healer for others. One cannot hope to understand the anguish of another if he does not have a similar experience himself. The logic is, God tolerates suffering in this world so that man can become stronger. This concept of “stronger” does not merely refer to the renewed physical and psychological endurance that results from the survival of such an ordeal; it branches as far out as to encompass the unity and harmony of mankind. Henri Nouwen imagines a world that is led by humans that care for and understand one another.
Suffering feasts upon life, but the argument that it fails to ennoble is unstable. Suffering can lead to two paths—the calloused heart and the compassionate soul. Many missionaries in the world have endured much pain and torture, yet their hearts remain tender. Brother Yun, a missionary to numerous nations, describes in his autobiography The Heavenly Man the dissent, the humiliation, and the torture he had underwent for the sake of the gospel. Surprisingly, his suffering brought him the gift of compassion; he understood that humans are not as strong as the façade they build up. Deep down in their hearts, they are all longing for love and acceptance. In fact, the very ones that had beat Yun in the past are the people that this man loves and prays for. Suffering, then, that leads to compassion is what brings people to their knees.
Finally, though not conclusively, suffering in the name of Christ brings joy to the soul. Many people abhor religion; religion in itself is becoming irrelevant as a source of truth and wisdom. However, it is testified that many who travel abroad for the sake of God have experienced profound joy and peace in the midst of their own sufferings. Christ asks for your lordship; in return, He promises His own strength and blessings, which are as many as the stars. Those that hold to the promises of God bear the cross of pain and anguish, but their lives attest to unbounded joy and fruit. Suffering is a terrible thing; conversely, suffering in Christ means unpredictable rewards. People undermine the experience of suffering. By arguing that such a horror has no benefits is an illogical statement. There are those we can observe, others that can testify, and still those that muse and pen, through which we can draw the conclusion that real suffering has the potential to ennoble.