How to Suffer Successfully

I have recently been introduced to the world of podcasts and, wow, what a world! One show that I have enjoyed is called The Art of Manliness. Topics range from relationship research, fitness and financial tips, and leadership techniques, to the meaning of beards. So, man or woman, clean-shaven or scruffy-faced, there is really something for everyone. Episode #345 focused on Ed Latimore, an author who has recently found success with the telling of his life’s trials and how they have helped him become successful. One of the highlighted steps to success was knowing how to suffer.

“How to suffer?” I thought to myself as I listened, “To suffer is to suffer. There is no doing it wrong or doing it well. It is just that: suffering. It just is.”

But what if it isn’t? What if there is a way to do it well? What if there is a way to suffer successfully? It would surely require understanding, perspective, and purpose.

Understanding Why We Suffer

In the scriptures, “to suffer” means to permit or allow something like when Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not…” The contemporary meaning of “suffer,” which is to experience or be subjected to something unpleasant, can better be compared to scriptural terms of trial, tribulation, and opposition.

According to the Plan of Salvation we know that "...there must needs be an opposition in all things..." and that through tasting the bitter we can better know the good and prepare to meet God. We know that "after much tribulation come the blessings." And most of all, we know that through suffering we have the opportunity to turn to Jesus Christ and feel the power of His Atonement in a way that we are rarely motivated to do otherwise.

Perspective During Suffering

Sometimes trials come that aren’t expected or able to be controlled, such as a major illness. Oftentimes we suffer because of our own mistakes and sometimes we suffer because of the choices of others. Though suffering can make us feel like our world is ending, it can also force us to look beyond current circumstances and rearrange priorities.

Hard times encourage patience, humility, and gratitude. Struggles can even serve as strong motivation for much needed change and improvement. As we pass through trials and tribulations we are able to understand the principles of the gospel in a much deeper and personal way. As we grow we can look back on the difficulties that have passed and be encouraged by our ability to endure in the future.

Purpose in Suffering

Suffering can give us purpose in both temporal and spiritual matters. As we experience both good and bad, we learn about ourselves. In educational endeavors, careers, and even broken hearts, hardships become learning opportunities and we are better for having suffered through them.

Not only do we learn for ourselves through suffering, we learn for the good of others. The things we endure and the knowledge we gain through difficulty often afford us unique opportunities to serve and support our brothers and sisters in ways different than the conventional ride to church or ‘welcome-to-the-ward’ casserole.

Learning how to suffer seems like a trick; wouldn’t it be better to try to avoid suffering altogether? In learning how to suffer we can understand why we must do so in the first place, gain and maintain perspective and even define our purpose. As we do this we are just a little closer to understanding the suffering of Jesus Christ. As we make mistakes we can rectify them through the power of the Atonement. As we deal with the consequences of others’ decisions we can be healed through His Grace. Through Jesus Christ we can use suffering as a tool for experience and "then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph..."

Koby Dudley is the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2017. After double majoring in Spanish and Communication for her Bachelor’s degrees, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and a career in the field of Bilingual Speech Language Pathology. Koby loves surprises and tries to focus on the little things in life. Her personal motto is "preparation brings blessings."

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