Reinforcing the value of life.

Reaffirming the pursuit of happiness.
Four Levels of Suffering

God wants to lead us through suffering to experience deeper and deeper meaning in life. This is only possible with God’s grace to lead us to where we cannot lead ourselves. With God’s grace we can discover our true dignity and see the true dignity of other people, too. As we move through the levels of happiness, we face a crisis at each transition. This crisis involves suffering.


Suffering Level 1: Epicurean

We distract ourselves with new pleasures or objects to feel good. If deprived of pleasures and possessions, we feel pain and experience suffering. We question suffering and fail to see how any good can come from pain. Suffering has no meaning at this level.


Suffering Level 2: Stoic

When suffering turns us in on ourselves, we seek instant pleasures in things, appearances, and egos. These pleasures only distract us momentarily; they can never satisfy suffering. Suffering can be unbearable when constantly competing with people in a comparison game. If things don't go our way, or we get embarrassed or fail, we can sink into depression. If pain or illness causes loss of some control or we become dependent on other people, life seems useless and meaningless. We may begin to live in fear of suffering because it inhibits our ability to achieve.



Suffering Level 3: Promethean Hero

Suffering gives us the opportunity to move beyond ourselves to create beautiful qualities that transform our hearts. When allowing someone to enter into our vulnerability, we wield a tremendous power: the ability to bring a depth of love and hope into the world that perhaps would otherwise never be possible.



Suffering Level 4: Surrender to God

God uses suffering to lead us to the surrender of faith. St. Augustine says, "For thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." Suffering is spiritual because God can use it for the good of all people. Our concern is with God and for His will to be done. Suffering is an opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth and for efficacious life changes.


© Copyright 2005 Center for Life Principles. All Rights Reserved. A project of Human Life of Washington.