The Pursuit of Suffering.
The Australian Dream revolves around the idea of the pursuit of happiness. I was talking with someone the other day who said, in reference to someone else, ‘As long as they’re happy, that’s the main thing’. Consequently, we often translate this to mean that comfort and convenience are essential rights – that we are entitled to this. A by-product of this is the illusion that we may not have to suffer and then the assumption that suffering is always, and in every way, bad and to be avoided at all costs.
With our societal affluence, standard of living, availability of resources and technological advancements, the possibility of not suffering seems real, tangible and certainly, possible. In light of this, as Christians we want our faith to do away with all of our problems and pains and daily drama and yet, the Bible describes suffering as an essential aspect of life and the Christian life.
The reality is, the Cross came before the Crown for Jesus! Jesus himself promised us that we would have trouble in this world (Jn 16:33). His basic call to follow Him was a call to a sort of suffering: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Mt 16:24). The NT tells us that we ought not consider it strange when we experience suffering (1 Peter 4:12) As St. Augustine said, God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.
And yet, there is an Australian ideological opposition to anything that challenges our rights to happiness, comfort and convenience that is deeply ingrained in us.
So what do we do? Pursue joy and avoid suffering? Embrace suffering and eschew joy? The answer is:
Stay tuned – we will cover this next time.