Appreciating Affliction

“It is, at the very least, something that our afflictions are capable of doing. They grab our attention, they shake us up and, by thus rattling the bars of our various cages, they serve to shake us – blinking all the while – awake. In this way, our afflictions oblige us to glimpse and to appreciate a somewhat bigger picture; they offer us a chance to see the greater, more troubling scope of our situation – the roiling reach of what, back in my own college days, we were fond of calling ‘the human condition.’   […]

Under most circumstances, then, the occasions of our suffering are capable of revealing what our habitual illusions often obscure, keeping us from knowing. Our afflictions drag us – more or less kicking – into a fresh and vivid awareness that we are not in control of our circumstances, that we are not quite whole, that our days are salted with affliction.” (Scott Cairns, The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain, pgs. 6-7)