February 27, 2002
volume 13, no. 38

God intended that all pain have its completion on earth
        "The subject of suffering may be discussed under the following heads:
      1. The paradoxes of suffering.
      2. Two ways of meeting pain or suffering.
      3. How to accept it.
        The paradoxes. Contemporary civilization is a strange mixture of material prosperity and, at the same time, a tremendous amount of inner and mental discomfort. Fifty-one percent of the hospital beds of the United States are occupied by mental patients. The wearied minds do multiply because of prosperity, though it is true that abundance alone does not make happiness. Inner joy, it is too little understood, is associated, not with having, but with being. The rich are becoming bored, as the tragic sense of life increases. This inner discontent and unhappiness is caused by man's trying to put the infinite into the finite. Our souls were made to hold the ocean of perfection, so they quickly become weary when we settle only for a cupful of the ocean of life. As we get closer to the fire, we feel a greater heat; as we get closer to the Infinite for which we are made, our joy increases. Obviously settling for some kind of temporal security does not completely satisfy the soul. As Franz Werfel said, 'This line of the finite must be crossed somehow or other. It is crossed above by faith; it is crossed below by insanity.'

        The second paradox is that we have a greater capacity for pain than we have for pleasure. A pleasure can reach a point where it will give us pain, for example, tickling. Pleasures also need a greater stimulus to produce an equal reaction. The curve of pleasure rises rises quickly, but when had too often, it drops suddenly. Honeymoons do not last long. In anticipation, a pleasure can often be greater than in the realization. In dreams, pleasure comes on a silver platter, but the actual meal is unsatisfying.

        Suffering, on the contrary, increases, and our capacity for it often increases. We go to a dentist, and we feel that if he drills five minutes more and goes six feet deeper, we just could not stand it. We stand it all right! And then he continues to bore until we fear he is going to hit oil. We still stand it! Many in sickbeds have felt that they exhausted themselves months or years ago, but they still go on suffering.

        Why do we have a greater capacity for pain than for pleasure? Probably because it was intended by God that all pain should end on this earth. The capacity for it is great in order that it may be exhausted here, for there is another life where tears will be wiped away: 'The sorrows of this life are not worthy to be compared with the joys that are to come.' But pleasure and happiness are not intended to be exhausted here; that comes elsewhere, being reserved for Heaven."

February 27, 2002
volume 13, no. 38
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