In the Face of Suffering

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(Lose the Net by Rasmus Faber Courtesy of Epidemic Music)

Isn’t it amazing how good questions lead us so naturally to good answers, and how beautiful questions lead to even better answers! When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we’ve opened the doors to discovery and wonder and greater understanding.

I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that matter every day.

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So, here’s the thing. We all know at one time or another we’re going to suffer or hurt in some way. But suffering isn’t the real issue. The real issue is knowing what options we have when it happens?

Join me this week as we consider ways of responding to suffering that can make it bearable and perhaps, help minimize or eliminate it. Stay with me.

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My first questions about suffering were predictably naïve, but heartfelt. I was a young child when I began asking why animals and human beings have to suffer. Suffering didn’t make any sense to me and none of the answers I was told about it helped to satisfy me. Later, as my own experiences of suffering deepened, so did my questions about it. So, also, did my desire to find healthy responses in the face of it, whatever it was.

It would be years before I finally reached the conclusion that my questions about why we suffer are secondary to the question of what to do when it’s happening, as it inevitably will. I came to understand that the fact of our existence means that we’ll experience periods of great vulnerability, and with that, periods of suffering, great and small. Along the way, I also learned that there is something stronger and much more beautiful than suffering.

It intrigues and encourages me that in the face of the suffering of others, something deep within us arises quite naturally, and we innately reach out to those who are hurting. Consider what happened when the World Trade Center towers were still burning and collapsing. People from across the Hudson River poured into the streets to help. With open hearts, they offered food and water and face cloths and towels and arms held wide to receive the panicked and disoriented people who were streaming out of the city to escape the danger.

That horrible day, the “better angels” of our humanity showed up. In fact, pick any tragedy and you’ll see similar responses taking place. The reason for that is a simple one. The urge to love and care is built into us. It’s one of the deepest qualities in us.

So, why don’t we live like that every day, and for that matter, why don’t we treat ourselves that way?

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It’s not hard to find answers to that question. In this age of constant wars, economic distress, mass shootings, weather disasters, and the hyper-saturation and distortion of bad news that is incessantly pushed at us by all forms of media, we often find ourselves stretched to the very limits of our abilities to cope. Under the weight of such widespread suffering, we become easily depleted, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, and sometimes spiritually. You don’t have to be an expert in human behavior to see that if we remain in that state long enough, we burn out and disconnect from the world, from other people, and from ourselves.

As I considered the truth of that, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s statement came to mind. “My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.” Saying that another way, “Though I have a strong mind and a warm and loving heart and a desire to help, it’s impossible for me to do something to end the pain and suffering of all the people I love and care about.”

Without question, Lindbergh’s statement is true for each of us. We don’t have the capacity to do something meaningful for everyone we know who is suffering. There isn’t enough of us to go around. If we’re going to stay healthy, we have to know our own limits and respond from that place of knowing.

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Over time, I’ve grown increasingly aware that if I’m going to respond to someone else’s suffering or to my own in healthy ways, I have an obligation to take elegant care of myself in as many ways as I can. To accomplish that, it’s imperative that I continue building resilience by doing things that self-nurturing, self-nourishing, and self-supporting. As I do, I gain the clarity I need to know if and when and how to respond to the suffering of others. I also gain greater clarity about what to do in the face of my own struggles.

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Photo: Scott Lennox


It may seem counterintuitive (not to mention quite challenging), but one of the most effective things we can do in the face of struggle or suffering is to relax as much as we can. Whether it is someone else’s situation or our own, the more we can relax and let go of the tension we’ve been holding, the more present we can be as we respond. I think once again about a line that has been used in science fiction movies. “All resistance is futile!” It happens to be true.

The more we stop resisting and pushing back, the more present we are in the moment, and the more open we become to acting in ways that are heartful and healthy, which leads us to this week’s Beautiful Questions. After you ponder them, write and tell me what you discover. Perhaps we’ll both learn something.

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Question One: In what ways are you or those you love struggling or suffering right now?

Question Two: What happens when you focus more on the pain than on healthy options or solutions?

Question Three: When you choose to stop and relax and attune yourself to your inner wisdom and what it tells you about facing suffering, what options naturally reveal themselves to you?

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As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

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I’m happy we can engage this way as we consider things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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