I would define suffering as the heart-breaking melody that resonates in the most intimate corners of the human being. That dark experience capable of overshadowing and eclipsing even the brightest glimmer of light, and plunging us into an abyss of anguish that seems to have no way out. That adversarial state we want to avoid and escape from as soon as we have the slightest contact. And yet, suffering remains as a human experience, as an element in the path and journey of life, and primarily, it remains an essential and inherent part in the development of human growth and transformation.

We often struggle to perceive suffering for what it truly is, a great and challenging teacher, whose lessons are painful, raw, and dark. But primarily revealing and transformative, if we allow them to be. While suffering itself, will always be necessarily uncomfortable and painful and its nature remains the same and constant, our response to it can change everything, if we don’t allow the experience to be sterile or a suffering devoid of purpose, of meaning.

Just as Victor Frankl, the father of logo therapy, teaches us: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms —to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances — to choose one’s own way.”

The situations that cause us suffering are generally beyond our control. Irreparable losses, terminal illnesses, physical ailments, traumatic experiences, sudden deaths, to name just a few. And if we cannot “fix” adverse circumstances, perhaps, it is because those circumstances do not need to be “fixed”, because they might have a purpose.

The purpose of transforming us. The purpose of suffering is what we build from it, not the suffering itself. The attitude is the secret element to transform suffering into an opportunity. That attitude must be linked to a meaning.

The meaning must be even greater than the pain itself, allowing us to perceive the pain as a learning experience that propels us forward and from which we can turn darkness into light.

Source: Human Rights - written by young jews from 40 countries with support of B'nai B'rith International Portugal and International Observatory of Human Rights