People who have gone through suffering have changed their definition of joy and are able to find joy in the smallest details in their lives. But those who haven't gone through any trials try to find joy in the most complicated things.
Think about children. They are perhaps the least joyful humans in the world. Yes, they appear happy more times than you, but they also get easily displeased. Children thrive on finding joy in only the things that make them joyful. If they don't have those things, they are miserable! They fuss when they don't have their way. They get easily bored with their toys and games and want to play with something else.
They could even get tired of their friends and won't be happy until they make new friends.
Many of us are still like children. We barely suffer anything, and as a result, our joy is limited:
- We get easily bored with life.
- We are always looking for the next new things.
- We get easily frustrated.
- We become hard to please.
- We get extremely picky.
- We become highly idealistic.
But once you go through some suffering (something children don't typically go through), then your worldview starts to change.
Just the other day, my wife asked me what I was doing differently. She noticed that I'm not as depressed as I was a year ago. Before, I would get into my "moods." I would shut down and wither up for a day or two...or three or four. Then afterwards, I would perk up again.
But lately, it seems as if depression is not even in my language.
My family and I have been through many trials since being married. Life hasn't turned out the way we wanted it to. From unemployment, to having no medical insurance, to having to ask for money, to having bill collectors hunt you down, to being sued in court, to being laid off, to having the IRS take half of your tax returns away unexpectedly. We've gone through quite a bit since living in North Carolina.
All of that suffering should have made me bitter. And, well, it did! But after a while, my worldview started to change to where I could find joy in the smallest matters in life. Now, I am truly thankful for whatever situation I find myself in because I believe my situation could only make me into a better person.
After all the suffering, you find that the things you used to find joy in doesn't give you joy anymore. All the ambitions you used to have doesn't seem to drive you anymore. All of your hopes and dreams for the future just don't cross your mind too much anymore.
One show I like watching on the Weather Channel is "Tornado Alley: I Survived a Tornado." Being in the South and having been VERY close to a tornado at one time, the reality of tornadoes is very strong to my family and I.
In this show, you learn about a devastating tornado that hit one town and learn who actually survived it. These survivors are giving their stories of how they've lived through a tornado. These people have lost EVERYTHING in their homes. One woman tragically lost both of her legs as a steel beam fell on her legs and mangled them.
With all of these survivors, the common thing they said was how their views on life has changed. They learned how they could lose everything at any moment. These people have went through suffering, and while they could have been made bitter by it, they have decided to learn from this suffering so they could live their lives better.
Without any suffering, there would be no push to change your life. If you think about it, a life without suffering is a life of having everything go your way. You would always get a job that you want. Your kids will go to college to be successful doctors. Your marriage would be perfect. You will be rich. You won't ever have an illness.
But having a life where every goes your way is having a life that you would be the most dissatisfied with. Suddenly, nothing is good enough for you.
- You're never making enough money...
- Your spouse is never giving you enough attention...
- Your kids aren't doing their best...
- You're not pretty or handsome enough...
- Your house isn't nice enough...
- Your car isn't new enough...
Once suffering come into your life, all of these superficial pleasures go away and you would start finding joy in things that actually matter. You would no longer be that little spoiled kid who always gets what he wants. You would be that little old man who knows how to see beauty in everything.
Trials aren't pleasant. I know! But as I write this, I am still not rich. I don't have many possessions. My family and I just ride in one car. We live in a quadraplex instead of our own home. Our income isn't stable. We aren't living that so-called "American Dream." But I've been the most joyous in these recent days than I have ever been in my life.
Believe me, I used to have everything that I ever wanted. Eight years ago, all of that changed. Eight years later, I am more joyful than I was when I had everything that I wanted.
Suffering is a funny thing. It could either break you or make you. In suffering, you would either become bitter or better. There is no indifference in suffering. If you're willing to learn, then suffering would make you better. If you're not willing to learn, suffering could kill you. But the choice is YOURS to make. Choose to LEARN in suffering.