Looking for an antidote to pain and suffering
It’s hard to miss a lot of the pain and suffering in our world today. If it’s not ‘big-picture’ issues swirling around our nation—race, immigration, the income gap, climate change—it’s things within the broader church—clergy sexual abuse and misconduct, the split of denominations over issues of sexuality or declining membership.
Some days it’s overwhelming.
At the end of the day, the only real antidote to much of the pain and suffering we encounter, after working as hard as we can to eliminate or reduce what we can, is to let God take care of it—to realize that we are not in control. Or, to use a phrase of an evangelical friend, “We’ve got to turn it over [to God].”
But I have another strategy, too. I try look for beauty in everything and everyone. Part of this is my photographer’s eye, but part of it is framed by a belief that in God’s creation, there is beauty everywhere, and too often, we miss it.
Do you remember the book, The Color Purple? In this 1982 Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Alice Walker, the character Shug famously says, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” It’s not that there is anything beautiful about pain, but I can usually see something beautiful about the human being who is suffering, or, when I am experiencing pain, I can look for the metaphorical (and often, literal!) color purple in the figurative fields of the world.
What are your strategies for dealing with the pain of the world? Where do you find hope? Sometimes training our eye to look for beauty, both in humanity and the created order, can help—or at least it does for me.