Nicholas Wolterstorff: Painful questions in the midst of deep sorrow
“Suffering is the shout of “No” by one’s whole existence to that over which one suffers- the shout of “No” by nerves and gut and gland and heart to pain, to death, to injustice, to depression, to hinger, to humiliation, to bondage, to abandonment. and sometimes, when the cry is intence, there emerges a radiance which elsewhere seldom appears: a glow of courage, of love, of insight, of selflessness, of faith. In that radiance we see best what humanity was meant to be.
That radiance which emerges from acquaintance with grief is a blessing to others is familiar, though perplexing: How can we treasure the radiance while struggling against what brought it about? How can we thanks God for suffering’s yield while asking for its removal? But what I have learned is something stranger still: Suffering may be among the sufferer’s blessings…in the valley of suffering, despair and bitterness are brewed. But there also character made. The valley of suffering is the vale of soulmaking.
But now things slip and slide around. How do I tell my blessings? For what do I give thanks and for what do I lament? Am I sometimes to sorrow over my delight and sometimes to delight over my sorrow? And how do I sustain my “No” to my son’s early death while accepting with gratitude the opportunity offered of becoming what otherwise I could never be?” [Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament For a Son, 96-97]