Essence of Suffering
By Anthony Casperson

The Youtuber considered the words he’d just spoken. Just before this moment, he spoke to the audience about the types of quests that he was doing in his playthrough of Immortals Fenyx Rising.

His character was a storyteller in ancient Greece. And was on a mission to save the world by reuniting several of the Greek Olympian gods with the parts of themselves that had been stolen by a monstrous deity.

After having reunited Aphrodite with her haughty snark and Athena with her unyielding confidence, the Youtuber had been in the process of helping Hephaestus regain his memories. Specifically, the recollection of his sufferings at the hands of the other Olympians.

That was when the player wondered why his character needed to be doing all of this. After all, Aphrodite had been far less insufferable before returning her “essence.” She’d even been selfless. Also, Athena had a far less critical eye before the return of her own “essence.” Including the fact that she’d seemed easy enough to work with because her expectations were far lower before. And now, Hephaestus stands before the player’s character and he’s happy. Something that particular figure of Greek mythology was never known for.

Was the player actually helping them by completing these missions?

And that’s when he considered his words. You could see his brain working as he thought about how the return of these “negative” aspects of their persons reunited them with an integral part of who they are. With that piece of them missing, they weren’t really fully themselves.

It’s like they actually needed those negative pieces because it formed them into the person they were.

I smiled when the Youtuber spoke to the fact that it was better for the characters to be complete rather than have even a negative aspect missing from them. Because its absence stole their being. I’ve spoken to it many times before (and need to be reminded myself quite often) that there can be good brought about in our lives even amidst suffering.

And we can even rejoice in it.

That’s what Paul spoke about in Romans 5:3-5. Suffering builds in us a persevering endurance that aids us in standing firm when difficulties arise again. That endurance then forms us into having a character of quality. The type of character that builds us into people who stand in steadfast hope. A hope that will never bring us to shame because it is built upon the faithful God who sets history’s path.

There’s reason to praise God even for the suffering in life because it shapes us into the people that he wants us to be. The essence of who he designed us to be.

It’s easy to want the suffering to end. To have it go away and never come back. But with that removal, it weakens our endurance, disqualifies our character, and slackens our hope in God. We become less the people God made us to be if there’s no suffering in this life.

Even less suffering than he decides can leave us unwhole.

When we come face to face with the negative experiences of this life, we shouldn’t fear them. Rather, we should step up into being the complete person we’re meant to be. And let the suffering build hope in us.