Post 1 in the Series: Suffering in Our Work and Everyday Lives
Today we are going to begin a series on suffering. We are going to look at the different types of suffering, how to endure suffering, what suffering looks like in our work and vocations, God’s role in our suffering, the effects of our suffering, and some thoughts on assisting those who are suffering.
Why this series? It came to mind a while ago when I was reflecting on a list of various types of suffering that Paul gives in 2 Corinthians 12:10. It struck me that most of the things in Paul’s list weren’t things that I typically even thought of as suffering. That connected with some other thoughts, which then opened up some very helpful biblical discoveries that have made a real practical difference in my day-to-day life.
As a result, one of the main points I’m going to hit in this series is that we are all suffering more than we know, because much of our suffering is not clearly recognized as suffering. This realization, in turn, gives us a broader view that makes it possible for us to see more clearly the substantial place of suffering in our everyday lives — and, therefore, how to deal with it (and help others deal with it).
Although there are many helpful things written on suffering, most of them tend to focus on persecution or the more dramatic forms of suffering which will likely happen to us all at some point, but which aren’t usually a main feature of our ongoing lives. As a result, we too easily file those truths away for “later,” failing to make the application to our lives right now — to the more routine hardships that we go through every day and which permeate the dominant fabric of our lives.
In other words, we fail to see all of the ordinary, everyday hardships of life as real suffering, and thus are left to navigate them without the amazing biblical realities that bear us up when we are experiencing more extreme suffering. My aim is to focus specifically (though not exclusively) on the everyday hardships that we experience and show how they are real suffering, what this means for us (and our work, family, and lives), and how to deal with them. (Thus, I almost called this series Suffering in Our Vocations.)
But How Does This Relate to Productivity?
Of course, someone might ask: “Isn’t this blog primarily about productivity and leadership — why are you writing a series on suffering?” The simplest answer is that productivity and leadership themselves involve suffering. Hence, if we are going to be effective in leading and working, we need to know how to navigate suffering.
But the better answer comes from understanding what productivity really is. A proper understanding of productivity requires that we broaden our understanding of productivity in at least two ways.
First, productivity does not just involve our personal productivity. Rather, there are four arenas of productivity. There is our personal productivity, of course, but there is also the productivity of our families, our organizations (that is, our workplaces, churches, and so forth), and society in general. In other words, productivity involves making our families, organizations, and communities more effective, as well as ourselves. Productivity involves life, work, business, and society–all segments of life.
Second, productivity is thus not simply about making ourselves more effective, but rather is about serving. We seek to be more productive so that we can be more effective in doing good for others. (For more on these points, you can see my post Broadening the Concept of Productivity, the About page or What this Blog is About.)
In the course, then, of our seeking to be productive (that is, serve our neighbor) in all areas of life, we will encounter many hardships. We need to know how to handle this covert suffering so that we can endure in our quest to serve and not “grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9).
Since productivity is really about service and doing good for others to the glory of God, suffering is just as relevant to the subject of productivity as it is to the subject of loving our neighbor, for they are one and the same.
Posts in This Series
- Suffering in Our Everyday Lives: An Introduction
- Broadening Our Understanding of Suffering: The Various Types of Suffering
- Stealth Suffering: You Are Probably Suffering More than You Know
- What Suffering Feels Like
- How to Endure Suffering
- Suffering in Our Work
- Is God in Control of Our Suffering?
- God’s Aims in our Suffering
- The Results of Our Suffering
- Fighting against Suffering and Helping Those Who Suffer