The primary theme throughout the essay is the cycle of suffering, its mystery and universality in
The book is neither meant to be a theological treatise nor an academic exposition but a toolkit to unleash human potentials; a resource for intervention in dealing with human life hurts and as a channel of Gods healing and liberation through Jesus Christ.
By biological logic, we human beings will face death sooner or later in our life and death has its very own ways to approach us - a sudden deadly strike, a critical sickness, a tragic accident, a prolonged endurance of brutal treatment, or just an aging biological end. To deal with the prospect of death come different passive or active reactions; some may be scared and anxious to see death, some try to run away from it, and some by their own choice make death come faster. But Viktor Frankl, through his work Man’s Search for Meaning, and Bryan Doyle; in his essay “His Last Game” show us choices to confront the death, bring it to our deepest feelings, meaningful satisfaction. To me, the spirit of the prisoners at deadly concentration camps, Frankl’s Logotherapy theory of “. . . striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.” (99), as well as the calmness of Doyle’s brother on his last ride, like an awaken bell, remind us of how precious life is, how we should find the significance in every act of living, determine to live a meaningful life at any circumstances; hence, when death comes, we can accept it without anxiety nor regrets.
The spiritual significance of illness and suffering is a topic Christians continue to grapple with, as Larchet points out in The Theology of Illness. Scripture offers a wealth of wisdom and cues for understanding illness, health, and healing from a Christian perspective. Larchet analyzes the various and often contradictory Christian positions on health and illness, revealing how attitudes have shifted over time and with changes in medical technology, practice, and ethics. For example, St. Barsanuphius presents a comprehensive analysis of the spiritual significance of illness and suffering. One view holds that illness signifies a lack of faith; another presents illness in terms of a person who is offered the opportunity to develop a stronger faith, or whose faith is being put to a test like the story of Job. Ultimately, the latter remains the most helpful way to approach illness and healing from a Christian perspective. The essence of Christian health care is that, "Healing itself, while resulting from natural processes, actually comes from God," (Larchet 116).
Being faced with adversity is enough to begin to question everything known, be it morals, faith, or self worth. However, certain individuals’ faith flourishes amidst life’s trials. Those who choose to focus on love and all that is dear in life are able to continue on in spite of hardships; on the other hand, some lose touch of what matters because the hopelessness and devastation overwhelms. Brains begin to numb and their values are left out in the cold. Fighting, pressing, and believing during times of loneliness is crucial for survival.
It can be argued, as human beings, we are students of life, and death is one of the hard lessons that we will encounter. Our faith is not a fixed concept, it is affected by a convergence of factors and events in our life. A person’s faith is a complex and differs from one person to another, but one thing is for certain, it affects how we look at life and how we approach life. Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima divulges into the life an inquisitive six year old Antonio as he transitions from a young boy to a man and becomes cognizant of life’s tragedies. His inquisitive nature that persists to understand himself and his world bears an internal struggle that leaves a rift of ambivalence that mentally tears him between opposing ideals.
The human experience is what connects people to one another. What we experience defines who we are and who we become. It also defines how we interact with others. The amazing thing is that not only do the events that bring joy, peace and happiness connect us but also those that bring anxiety, fear and despair. This brings to light the fact that God somehow in his sovereignty uses all things for the good of those who love Him. These ideas are brought to light in Jerry Sittser’s book, A Grace Disguised which is his personal journey of loss and the insight and experience that was gained in the face of great tragedy. In his book, Sittser discusses various insights he has gained, such as how Christian’s view sorrow, how families recover when
Klay through a moment of breakdown, tells how these images impact him as he is a recent father of a 10-month-old son. Such experiences can shape one’s faiths and religion, as he questions the idea that “I have to believe in a God that helped me through what I lived in war, or a God that permits such things?” To conclude with his speech, Klay mentions the martyr stories he read when he was a boy, such stories help him create a better idea of the tales of pain that leads us closer to God
In a postmodern world it is worth contemplating in what we can put our faith. Does culture, religion, or God merit our trust? Or is this a world of mechanical and biological evolutionary processes void of any meaning and purpose? The Sunset Limited, “a novel in dramatic form,” by Cormac McCarthy, is a dialogue between two persons who approach each other from opposite worlds to answer these questions. Black, a born-again believer and ex-con, and White, a nihilistic college professor, attempt to determine whether belief in God is viable in this world and if life is worth living. Despite Black’s efforts to convince him otherwise, White remains a Depressed Self who denies God’s existence, affirms his view of the world as deranged, and leaves to complete his suicide.
The concept of suffering plays an important role in Christianity, regarding such matters as moral conduct, spiritual advancement and ultimate destiny. Indeed an emphasis on suffering pervades the Gospel of Mark where, it can be argued, we are shown how to "journey through suffering" (Ditzel 2001) in the image of the "Suffering Son of Man" (Mark 8:32), Jesus Christ. Although theologians have suggested that Mark was written to strengthen the resolve of the early Christian community (Halpern 2002, Mayerfeld 2005), the underlying moral is not lost on a modern reader grappling with multifarious challenges regarding faith in the face of suffering. In his article "A Christian Response to Suffering", William Marravee (1987) describes suffering
Modernist fiction is incredibly dense and abstract. Writers from the twentieth century also seem to carry with them the weight of the world, and thus their fiction has been filled with realistic misery and pain. Still, these writers often add to this element with existentialist thematic structures, which construct a very unique and experimental viewpoint on a modern existence. This is what is occurring in both Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot as well as Albert Camus' The Stranger. The two a very different in format, yet both play upon the modernist idea of abandonment by God and the idea that there is an underlying sense of nothingness that guides modern life. Each focuses on the notion of free will and how it determines our lives in a world devoid of God. Together, these great works of contemporary fiction are a telling testament to the changing nature of sentiments regarding both religion and the meaning of life in a tumultuous twentieth century paradigm.
Two central themes to understanding the human condition are suffering and morality. Humans contrive morality to be a set of values deemed right or wrong in a society, and are often defined by institutions. These guidelines shape the way people live and how they react to life’s circumstances. Suffering is one emotion crucial to the understanding of existence. In a time of pain, an individual often seeks direction from a higher power, like the church. Institutions such as religion are a way of expressing morality and a means to cope with suffering, a crucial understanding of the human condition.
In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus presents a pseudo-historical documentary of a plague that confines and controls the citizens of Oran within their city gates. The plague possesses the power of life and death over the people, as it determines which citizens will face their death or those who work to stop death. These latter men, personified by the character's of Rieux, Grand, and Tarrau, each struggle endlessly to master the plague's power over their lives, even with the realization they may never succeed. For Camus, this idea of "impossible struggle" against an unseen power resonates throughout the novel and reoccurs in another "plague" which these men must contend - the limits of human
In "God Has Need of Man", Archibald MacLeish dives head-first into the question of suffering. MacLeish finds that the meaning of suffering lies in the idea that God needs the love of man to exist.