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  • Writer's pictureWung & Margareth

Suffering In Solitude: A Reflection on Rest In the Midst of Suffering.

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Discover the true essence of Sabbath—a time to relinquish the constant striving for usefulness and instead find solace in the simple act of resting.

We embarked involuntarily on an off-grid adventure. We immersed ourselves in the beauty of nature and the soothing rain. We ventured to a serene paddy field, crossing a rustic bamboo bridge and conquering the tallest mountain. Our meals consisted of delectable fresh organic vegetables, homegrown poultry, fish, and meat. The purity of the air filled our lungs with delight. Each night, we gathered around a crackling fire, while the children joyfully engaged with their newfound friends at Hope Children's Home. They sang, danced, and indulged in lively games of soccer, volleyball, and badminton. The children formed a deep affection for their loving grandmother.

For three weeks, we were disconnected from the digital realm, bidding farewell to the internet's constant hum. Some may have feared boredom, yet the experience was far from mundane. It was a time of solitude, rest, and finding purpose within each empty hour. Our son reflected upon his life in America, acknowledging that despite having all he needed, he still experienced moments of boredom. However, this journey was a different kind of boredom—one that embraced solitude, embraced rest, and filled the empty hours with meaningful pursuits.

In these moments, we discovered the true essence of Sabbath—a time to relinquish the constant striving for usefulness and instead find solace in the simple act of resting.

SUFFERING AND CAPITALISTIC SPIRITUALITY: Placing our hope in the comforting presence of the Ultimate Comforter.

When we learn to desire less, we find solace in rest. Suffering often arises from wanting more than what is truly necessary. This connection between suffering and our materialistic mindset is particularly evident in the context of capitalist spirituality. In our pursuit to alleviate suffering, we often seek a life devoid of hardship. This mindset is prevalent in Western Christianity, which tends to prioritize a suffering-free existence. However, our family recently engaged in a conversation about suffering, emphasizing eastern spirituality. In many Eastern christian faith traditions, suffering is acknowledged as an integral part of the human journey. Instead of striving for victory over suffering, the focus lies in finding peace amidst it. Witnessing the widespread suffering experienced by our native people and living with suffering rather than striving for suffering-free life further reinforced this understanding. Their suffering spans various dimensions, encompassing social, economic, political, and spiritual hardships.

Our native people are in dire need of compassion and comfort. Every day, as we take a walk, we are confronted with the suffering that pervades our surroundings. The streets bear the weight of tears and stories of immense struggle. The people need a street of mercy. Our youth grapple with the scourge of drug addiction and its devastating consequences, while young widows yearn for a glimmer of hope to raise their children on their own.

However, amidst all the suffering, we are reminded that it is an essential part of our spiritual journey. Instead of fearing suffering, we embrace it as an inevitable component of life. We recognize that a suffering-free existence is unattainable. Instead, we learn to coexist with suffering, placing our hope in the comforting presence of the Ultimate Comforter.

UPWARD MOBILITY: The Pursuit of Rest and Contentment.

When we learn to desire less, we discover the true essence of rest. As our wants diminish, so do our worries. Silicon Valley embodies the rat race of upward mobility, where individuals strive to climb higher and achieve more with each passing year. The pursuit of upward mobility has become deeply ingrained in the culture, leaving little room for questioning its validity. However, there is merit in exploring an alternative perspective – that of downward mobility. John 3:30 speaks of this concept, advocating for a decrease in self-importance while allowing Christ's influence to increase. Similarly, Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 emphasizes that God's strength is most evident in our weaknesses. Downward mobility challenges the prevailing cultural norms, both in the Bay Area and in India, where social aspirations often revolve around climbing the caste ladder. Sabbatical rest calls for contentment, embracing a simpler life with fewer distractions.

During our sabbatical journey with my native people, we traversed many narrow and winding roads, symbolic of the path Christ calls us to walk. This narrow path serves as a metaphor for a purposeful and intentional life, leading to the most profound joy one can experience.

HIDDENNESS AND NOTHINGNESS: Embracing Humility and Finding Significance.

In the pursuit of becoming nothing, we shed the trappings of worldly attachments. Eastern spirituality places great emphasis on the concept of nothingness as the ultimate goal. Paradoxically, it is in our quest to be seen, valued, and celebrated that we often encounter frustration and anger. The fear of hiddenness and nothingness gives rise to stress and strife in our lives.

Consider the examples of Adam, Joseph, and Christ. Adam lived in a state of hiddenness, with everything provided for him and his actions scarcely documented. Similarly, Joseph's life was characterized by hiddenness; he may have performed mighty acts but they remained largely unrecorded. Even the gospel writers overlooked him. Christ, too, embraced hiddenness. He descended from heaven and obediently fulfilled the Father's will. Their lives illustrate the profound wisdom in doing the will of God, irrespective of recognition or worldly acclaim.

In our pursuit of spiritual growth, let us reflect on these profound insights: the spirituality of suffering, the pursuit of contentment through downward mobility, and the embrace of hiddenness and nothingness. By incorporating these perspectives into our lives, we can discover a deeper sense of peace, joy, and purpose.

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