sufferingWritten By: Lawrence Lam

A couple of years ago, a former British military agent began a venture that would be more successful than he ever imagined. He started a brutally difficult obstacle course for civilians to participate in simply for the fun of it. Since then his challenge has been replicated many times and runs events around the world throughout the calendar year. A number of my friends have paid up the $150 per person entry fee this past year to climb muddy walls, swim in ice cold pools and endure electric shocks of up to 10,000 volts. This is not a race, but simply a personal challenge to work with others to get through the toughness of the course, endure the suffering and enjoy a beer at the finish line.

As I mentioned, the venture has been very successful. For my friends and many others who signed up, the challenge was exhilarating and satisfying and none regretted their decision to participate. For myself, I didn’t sign up this year but hearing the stories and reviewing the course, it is something that I may want to try in the future. My hunch is that we are rediscovering value in suffering and not looking at it as a final end to be simply avoided. As trivial a reason for suffering as an obstacle course may be, how much more meritorious is suffering for greater causes?

The sense of accomplishment felt at the end of the finish line recalls the analogy of the course to life in 2 Timothy with all the congratulations that come with it. At minimum, could the purifying experience of a tough obstacle course not the perfect analogy for suffering on the way to the next life? (1 Peter 1:7) Is it not an indicator of the innate necessity of purgatory in order to stimulate the fullness of joy in Heaven?

As the world rediscovers meaning in suffering, we also read in the media greater celebrations of heroism and near condemnation of living a life devoid of meaningful peaks and valleys. From the dedication of blood, sweat and tears to grow a business to the consideration to enduring tight conditions to escape death squads to making the tough decision to continue a pregnancy.


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