It seems that, many times in Scripture, particularly in the New Testament, we are encouraged directly and potentially by example to rejoice in suffering because of its potential positive benefits to the sufferer, say, in the spiritual domain.
So, does this mean that we are only to rejoice in our suffering and never to experience or express any negative emotions as a result of it?
For, to me, while, yes positive things can come of suffering, it ultimately is something we naturally don’t like and, while I can see rejjoicing in the positive aspects, especially after we have gotten through this or that, I cannot see completely denying our negative feelings toward the circumstance themselves.
Perhaps saying that they are “only natural” is a bit of a cop-out as far as spiritual discipline is concerned, but I think it is a good point.
After all, we are told not only to rejoice with people who rejoice but also to mourn with people who mourn and I would assume this relates to all situations not just higher spiritually-related ones. If we are to mourn with those who mourn, surely this mourning is not to be considered wrong or sinful or even less than ideal.
Then, we have examples of men mourning the deaths of otehr men and potentially Christ even mourning with those who thought men were dead.
We have the example of Jesus apparently getting angry at those who wouold make His House a “den of robbers”.
I’ve always considered the “making us stronger” element of suffering at most a positive side-effect but not the primary essential purpose of it. Am I wrong on this outlook? Why or why not?
Of course, I agree that we should not get over-wrought about things, but I also believe that there is a “reasonablly” negative (and natural, in the non-fallen sense) way to respond to negative circumstnaces.
I am also of the belief that, sometimes, if not more often than not, things just happen, not in the sense that they are in any way beyond God’s control, but in the sense that sin and this sinful world of suffering is common to all, as even a particular verse of Scripture states. Many of us have not experienced any more or less suffering than that which is “common to man”. So, I might propose, and I hope I’m not being heretical here, that while there surely is a reason or there surely are reasons for Suffering (generally), particular trials may not always be meant for reasons particular or even for a particular strengthening and that we may not ultimately even know the Ultimate Reason for the allowance of Suffering generally or certain sufferings particularly, if a reason for particulars exists. (Granted, I have my own speculative theories about Suffering generally, but that is a subject left for another time.) At any rate, so, with this in particular in mind, I would propose that it is indeed OK to express negative reactions fo various kinds of suffering, as long as these ractions are within reason. Am I wrong in this?
The negative responses of God and men to sin of various kinds would seem also to bear out that it is not good because it causes emotional suffering. If sin wasn’t supposed naturally to cause suffering, what would be the big deal about sinning in the first place?
So, what are we to do? Are we to remove our natural negative responses to suffering entirely and to rejoice only in the positive affects of it, or is negative response permitted and, in fact, to be expected by God of us?
Is there any good commentary on this subject either from the very distant past or contemporary? I would very much appreciate some enlightenment on this issue either from folks here or from commentaries on the matter.