A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Suffering is something we humans have a hard time understanding. In fact, we cannot understand it. And may nobody have to go through any suffering! We need to pray constantly never to be tested and never to need suffering . May any cleansing or purification be through chesed and rachamim without suffering.
But if chasve shalom a person does go through some kind of suffering, there are ways to deal with it that are perhaps helpful on some level. Nobody can minimize a person’s suffering. What one person may find easy, another person may truly find difficult.
Most of us react to suffering with questions: why are we going through this? What did we do wrong? Why is Hashem punishing us? Or testing us? But in truth "why" is not a very Jewish question. It may be beneficial to the point of digging into ourselves to try to fix things within ourselves or our personal relationships that may have contributed to this situation on some level. But none of us can truly understand why any particular situation arises or why we need to go through a particular suffering. It is not at all beneficial to try to assume we know why something is happening. Who are we to fathom the ways of Hashem? We cannot judge ourselves or others. From our perspective it may seem like we are being punished for something. From Hashem’s perspective it can be an entirely different picture.
What can help however is to look at life from a different perspective completely. Not so much from a personal perspective because then we tend to feel confused, depressed, sad, comparing ourselves to others, disappointed that what we wished would happen or imagined would happen never came to be etc. The personal perspective often leads to disappointment, anger, frustration or depression.
We need instead to try to look at life from a G-dly perspective. We are a part of Hashem. Hashem sends each of our souls down to this world to elevate and perfect something: our particular portion of the world and of life. And in the process sometimes there is, G-d forbid, a time of suffering. But if we realize that suffering itself can be part of the process of elevating our portion or of perfecting something on a spiritual level, we look at things differently. It is no longer about our personal suffering. It is a suffering we endure for the good of the world, for Hashem and for some G-dly purpose which we may not understand now but we will in future, when Moshiach arrives.
And we need to realize we are just part of a very big picture which takes into consideration past lives, present tikkunim (things that need rectifying) and future. Sometimes a soul really suffers from abuse or any type of difficulty in order to purify something that is very evil . And that soul is a very special soul, a very sensitive and holy soul that is sent down to accomplish something very important to Hashem. Some souls are here to expose evil and get rid of it. Some souls are here to elevate positive matters. Everyone’s portion and journey is different. Each soul is precious to Hashem. Hashem is not angry with anyone. He loves every Jew like His only child.
And if we realize the main thing is the spiritual purpose and what each soul has to accomplish, and that we all have tremendous good qualities and potentials, we stop looking at things from a material and physical perspective, or a personal perspective, and we become part of a greater picture, the G-dly perspective, the G-dly picture. We then lose our self importance and it is not longer about us. It is about what G-d directs us to do with hashgocha protis, with Divine providence. It is about what each soul needs to reach its perfection and attain a higher level of closeness to Hashem.
With humility and with true bitul (the will to accomplish whatever it is Hashem wants from us to repair or purify our portion of the world), we forge ahead and do our best, sometimes under very difficult circumstances and very difficult tests, Hashem yirachem. But we realize we are not suffering alone: Hashem is with us in our suffering and there is a purpose to it even if we don’t see the purpose.
The Tanya says that if a person undergoes some suffering, he should accept it with love and when he does that, Hashem will actually change it to become an open form of revealed good that we can appreciate. The gevurot (the dinim) will be sweetened and it will come down in a form of good we can see as good.
Nevertheless, despite all that, we still need to pray that nobody should need to go through any form of suffering. We need to maintain a constant sensitivity to others and pray that each person should be saved from suffering and find relief from whatever challenges they go through.
But it helps to know that nothing is in vain, even suffering. Nothing is for nothing. Nothing is random. And everything has its time. There is a time to suffer; there is a time to heal. And most importantly there is a time for redemption from all suffering. May it be now with Moshiach tzidkenu!