“Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.”
—Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year
We are all in search of meaning and never more so than out of our losses, our disappointments, our frustrations. We want to know what life is about when we are bored. There must be more to it!
Whilst we live a very short time in comparison to eternity, our days seem eternal, let alone a year or all of them put together. Our life seems long because God has designed us to make meaning out of life, and where there is a struggle over meaning life seems longer than ever.
The best of life to be lived is a short life—it seems short, but in reality it’s packed with meaning and lasting legacy. A life lived chock-full of meaning is a life well lived.
We all suspect this to be true. Some, maybe many, are fortunate enough to live the reality. This is our opportunity, too.
Meaning Out of Loss, Disappointment, Sadness
If our meaning is to come from anywhere it will come, eventually, from within the midst of loss. God has refined us through our losses even more so than through the raucous blessings of bliss we could hardly retain.
In loss we are transformed. In suffering our search for meaning is found.
Becoming a better person is implicit with meaning. We do not become better people without having our purpose refined, our identities reorganised, our ideas of life reshaped.
Meaning in life, if life is to mean anything at all, must surround the lives of others—the societal life. Meaning in life cannot come in isolation. Meaning in life cannot ever be born out of ‘me, myself, I’.
In the context of suffering comes meaning in life.
Suffering is not God’s design entirely, but our Lord makes perfect use of that which would otherwise be damning. God uses suffering to make us even better, more caring, more empathic individuals, capable of achieving what only the godly could achieve.
The search for meaning is ironic. We never find meaning where we think it will be; within ourselves. No, meaning comes from within the web of life, within suffering, through the process of becoming better people.
God allows suffering in order to make us better people who are more in touch with life. Meaning in this life cannot come out of isolation from loss and suffering. God uses the lessons we learn for our and others’ good.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.