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Suffering (Sharing in Others Suffering)

“The godly suffer, in part, so that having experienced God's comfort they in turn can comfort others. Thus, Paul shows the fallacy in his opponents' idea that Christians should never suffer and should be concerned only with their own salvation.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:6)

“If as the sufferings of Christ abound so also comfort abounds through Christ, let us welcome the great encouragement of Christ’s sufferings and let them abound in us, if we indeed yearn for the abundant comfort with which all who mourn will be comforted, though perhaps it will not be alike for everyone. For if the comfort were alike for everyone, it would not be written, “As the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” [2 Corinthians 1:5]. Those who share in sufferings will share also in the comfort in proportion to the suffering they share with Christ. And we learn this from the one who made such statements with unshaken conviction for “we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (Origen)

“Christ himself became a victim of trauma, making us see that whenever we suffer, He suffers with us. There is no human sorrow in this world that the Son of Man does not also share in. There is only one healing for trauma: to behold in your suffering someone standing alongside you, someone who innocently and voluntarily bears your suffering with you. Nothing else – no words, no analysis – are in the end the crucial fact. That someone is Christ, and it is also those special men and women who have taken on this mission.” (Timothy Patitsas)

“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” (Henri Nouwen)

“Compassion binds us especially to the suffering of others so that we share their suffering vicariously and want to do something to alleviate it.” (Vigen Guroian)

“The word “empathy” is often defined as placing ourselves in the shoes of another. Empathy makes us more compassionate toward other people. It is interesting that the etymology of “empathy” comes from two Greek words, “em” and “pathos.” “Em” means “in.” “Pathos” can be translated “feeling.” It can also be translated as “passion,” meaning the things we struggle with, and “suffering.” We call the sufferings of Christ His “Passion,” which comes from the same word. So, the word “empathy” can correctly be translated as “sharing in sufferings.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“The consumer world does not suffer well. It has substituted an ethic of false compassion, defined as the relief of pain (not the “sharing of suffering,” its original meaning). Consumerist compassion is stymied when confronted with suffering. That which cannot be relieved must be eliminated. We anesthesize, abort, and euthanize, all in the name of compassion. We do not withstand and endure. Consumption is turned towards the self. Within the self alone, suffering can have no meaning. In the name of compassion, we kill, thinking that death ends suffering. It is an act of despair.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“God has created us in such a manner that we all influence one another. When a neighbor or friend feels compassion for our suffering, we immediately feel comforted and stronger “God created us to be in mutually dependent and compassionate relationships with one another where we share in each other’s sufferings, yet we spend so much time opposing and mistreating each other.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Sharing another’s suffering is one of the most intimate things we can do. It is easy to be with another in their joy. It is a much harder task to be with someone as they cry out in pain or misery or suffer in silence as their spirit is ripped to shreds and they feel that the light will never come out again. So often, when we see someone else in pain, we want to fix things. We want to make the pain go away. Sometimes, we can. Other times, we have nothing to offer but our presence. It is important to realize how much a gift that can be.” (Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur)

“We cannot eliminate suffering in this life; there are times when we can partially alleviate another’s suffering, but our proper response to suffering is to simply be with, be for, the suffering person. The answer to suffering is always an experience of grace and unconditional acceptance. The answer to suffering is love.” (Kathryn Mulderink)

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