How did you respond to a loss, a personal challenge or a period of difficulty or suffering in your life?
Life is a continuous struggle, which is full of obstacles. Problems, challenges and issues surface regularly to test our resolve and character. However, some people crumble under the pressure of these challenges and problems, whereas as few learn from it further strengthens their character and resolve.
It is also to be recognized that different people have developed different mechanisms to cope up with challenges or issues. These mechanisms refine as more we employ them, in such critical or intense situations.
There were several occasions, in my life, which demanded my complete attention and devotion. These challenges were so immense or huge that they were not only affecting my present, but also they could have adversely affected my future too. Therefore, it was necessary for me to take serious and rational measures and use my skills, analysis and intellect to cope this problem.
When I had to cope a challenge, which was of immense magnitude, I first try to comprehend the challenge itself. Without a proper knowledge or understanding of challenge, a strategy, to curb-mitigate or cope it, cannot be devised. Therefore, first I attempted to get out of that state of panic, by becoming more objective and focusing on the repercussions of that tragedy.
I told myself that what had happened had happened, it could not be undone; therefore, the focus should be on future and devising measures, which could mitigate its ramifications. I have learned one thing, during this process that there are two reactions; one is immediate and irrational and other is rational and delayed.
2) In your view, are such times of suffering, loss, etc. a judgment or punishment for our own actions as suggested by some belief or religious traditions?
I believe that there are few matters, which are in control and most of the matters are not and these matters that are autonomous affect us most. I do believe that nature also punishes a person for his/her wrong actions, but most of the time it is we, who are responsible for our plight. We take such measures or actions, which are not prudent and only benefit us in the short-term, sometimes. Therefore, most of the times, it is not the divine judgment, which makes our life difficult, but our own decisions that are irrational and do not have depth.
There are people, who do not want to blame themselves for their miseries, as they are too proud to accept their mistake and there are some, who blame God or nature because they want to evade the process of rectifying their mistakes. Therefore, all responsible people, most of the time, accept their responsibility and do not blame God, as they know that neither this will end the problem, nor it is true.
If this question has been asked in the context of death, my answer remains the same, as I believe that death is a part of natural process. Those, who have come to this world, must leave; it is a cycle, which must complete. Therefore, I do not blame God for loss or suffering.
3) Is God involved in determining who suffers? If so, how? If not, what is God’s involvement in our challenges and sufferings?
I firmly believe that humans have free will and we will be judged in afterworld. However, I also believe that sometimes God tests human; tests the character, our resolve. It is also necessary that we must understand that world is based on some principles, which are absolute. We must not blame God if natural or personal calamity occurs. This is part of life and we must accept it as a reality. This process has been going on for epochs and the system will continue to function.
If God is determining, who will suffer in this world, then the concept of freewill and hereafter crumbles. Therefore, it is hard for to believe that God is deciding, who is suffering and mostly it is our actions, because of which we suffer.
There is another concept too, which quite different from the above discussed concept. There are people, who believe that God tests humans through suffering and challenges; there is redemption in suffering. This concept is very prevalent in Christianity, as Jesus suffered on cross, for the salvation, of humanity. Therefore, every suffering is a chance to redeem oneself and to save soul. Therefore, suffering is actually blessing, only selected few are blessed by God.
4) Does forgiveness have a place in responding to life’s adversities, especially the wrongs done to us?
It is human to err. We commit mistakes from time to time. Sometimes these mistakes are intentional and on few occasions, unintentional. If we accept mistake or a wrongdoing, a part of natural process, then it becomes easy for to forgive. However, it is a fact that it not easy to forgive, even when we know that a person is sincerely seeking forgives and that person is really embarrassed of his/her mistake.
It must also be realized that forgiveness gives an opportunity to restart things on a better and on a mature note. Psychologically too, forgiveness gives this feel that a person has a power to reshape matters and provide a new beginning or conclusion, to a relationship. Therefore, we can conclude that forgiveness have place in responding to the life’s adversities, especially the wrong done to us.
5) Is it possible to find meaning for our lives in times of suffering, especially when the suffering is experienced by those innocent of its causes?
It is a very intense moment, when a person is suffering, because of his/her actions. It is a time, when the rethinking process starts, spontaneously. A personal re-discover and re-analyze him or herself. It is the time, when a person is more focused, more sincere, more genuine and more result-oriented. However, this process remains powerful, when a person is suffering because of his/her mistakes. If a person is suffering, because of the mistakes or blunders, of some other person, the process, rethinking and re-discovering, is not as powerful as it is in the other case.
Most of the religions, especially Asiatic religions, believe that suffering is redemption. The whole theology, of most of the Asiatic religions, is based on it. They consider it a very powerful experience, which leaves strong imprints, on a personality. According to the theology, the world is a place, where we regularly commit sin and crimes and it is imperative to wash away these sins. During this process of wash away, we re-discover ourselves and reset our goals.
This concept is prevalent in Christian theology too, where it is believed that suffering is actually blessing in disguise and it provides opportunity to a person to re-invent oneself and come to close to GOD. The example is of Jesus and his disciples, which Christian theology uses regularly.
However, sometimes, people are not responsible for the suffering, which they have to endure. Such phase could be highly damaging and can cause serious challenges to a personality. Therefore, I believe that suffering, brought by one’s own mistakes, provide the opportunity to redeem oneself and it is only true process, which can help in re-discovering oneself.