By Bob R. Acebedo I Published: July 26, 2020
Challenges and struggles – like physical maladies, shattered relationships, financial woes, job loss, failures and aborted projects or plans – are, no doubt, inevitable; they are part and parcel of human life. But they are not without meaning. They happen for certain reasons or for a purpose.
Viktor Frankl, author of the all-time bestseller “Man’s Search for Meaning,” found meaning and reason in his incarceration at a concentration camp amid unimaginable horrors, by helping his fellow prisoners survive; he suggested positive meanings and reasons for their suffering.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German existentialist philosopher, likewise acknowledged the meaningfulness of suffering when he wrote, “Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering.”
But regardless of the manifold causes of our challenges and struggles – be they spawned by our own fatal choice, or by others, or by natural circumstances, or by a stroke of misfortune – what could be some of the possible positive reasons or meaning(s) for our challenges and struggles?
Allow me to share these thoughts.
- Challenges and struggles are avenues for our growth. In order to attain fulfilment in life, we have to find first our individual calling or purpose. Challenges and struggles are but opportunities for us to find our purpose or calling in life, from where we can proceed to work on our individual growth and development.
Our growth is determined not only by getting what we want out of our struggles but, more significantly, by the transformation of our character as a person. Struggles and challenges help us to become sturdy and strong, courageous, mature and balanced.
- Challenges and struggles teach us to care for others. In the middle of our challenges, struggles and pain, many of us are likely to ask, “Why me?” This process of reflexive soul-searching can lead us to think of others similarly situated, thus enabling us to transcend our own suffering – that is, to understand, empathize and care for others caught in a similar situation.
- Challenges and struggles are a prelude to victory. We cannot be a winner if we do not engage in life’s battles. We cannot be victorious if we do not fight. Just as Christ’s suffering and death was a pre-condition to his glorious resurrection, in challenges and struggles God shows His greatness. He makes us whole through our brokenness. More often than, the most painful and hardest things in life merely turn out to be clear pathways for God’s miracles to happen in our life.
Yes, struggles and challenges are not without reason.
Therefore, the way to overcome them is not to abhor or repudiate them – but rather to find and embrace their meaning, reason or purpose.