Suffering is optional

Pain is inevitable. It is part of being human. Often, however, we add to our pain and develop the land of suffering.



Surrounding myself in nature gives me an indescribable sense of awe and wonder. From the delicate details of a flower to the majestic splendor of a mountain range - when I can walk or work amidst the beauty of creation - I somehow feel closer to Creator God Himself. 

Jesus said our hearts are like a garden. When the Word of God takes root in us, and His Spirit dwells within us, our lives “produce beautiful fruit” (Matthew 13:3-23; John 15:1-8, 16). Fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Scriptures also warn us to guard our hearts against the “thorns” or “weeds” (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 4:7). Seeds of selfishness, greed, and envy. Roots of resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Even the little offenses can grow like a weed and choke the life out of us and before we know it, our garden is overgrown. Surprisingly, what begins as a little irritation, if left ignored can grow and develop into an overwhelming task.

Being able to notice detrimental changes in character or behavior is a telling sign to hit pause and get to the root of the irritation. Holding to even a morsel of resentment that you’re unwilling to let go of can lead you to a land of suffering. Keeping it tucked away and out of sight while maintaining a stubborn grasp of it — doesn’t help. Telling yourself you deserve to scream for justice doesn’t help. While holding to resentment it is robbing you of your autonomy and introducing all kinds of confusion and complication into your life.

Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

Whenever pain is present, of any kind—the pain of aggression, grieving, loss, irritation, resentment, jealousy, indigestion, physical pain—if you really look into that, you can find out for yourself that behind the pain there is always something we’re holding on to. Pain is inevitable. It is part of being human. Often, however, we add to our pain and develop the land of suffering. We make judgments about people and situations and in so doing give those people and situations significance and power in our lives. That brings emotional pain to a place of suffering.

  • What are you holding on to that is keeping you in The Land of Suffering?

Imagine with me this Land of Suffering. In the middle of this painful place is a pole with the inscription, Resentment. You can leave this place anytime you wish but you find yourself almost drawn to this pole - even obligated to hold on to it until the guilty party pays. 

Holding on to your resentment isn’t serving you. It isn’t getting you what you want. In fact, it isn’t making the offender pay, it’s making you pay.

“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain,
and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.”

Psalm 34:18 TPT

When your heart is broken, you need to know God is there to help you. We are all, in some form or fashion, struggling with our past: our childhood and cellular memories. In other words, all that has been done to us, that we have witnessed, and that we have done to others comes together to influence our heart, thus affecting our heart’s capacity to lead us into a land of dreams realized.

The reason we repeat so many of our painful issues is that we seldom deal with the root problem all the while holding to this pole of resentment that is planted deep in the land of suffering. Many will get hung up on the idea that releasing resentment means “I lose”.

The truth is if I forgive those who harmed me in the past, 

  • I am not in any way condoning what they did. 

  • I am saying that I am sick and tired of feeling hurt or angered by them.

  • I've also learned that the hardest person to forgive is me. Maintaining resentments against oneself is an unhealthy form of self-control.

Forgive literally means to send away. We can’t send away the unkind actions of others but we can send away the offense, the pain, and the suffering! It is, after all, the way things affect us that we need to get past. This isn’t something we do for them; it is something we do for us. Forgiveness is an extravagant act of kindness to ourselves. It is where and when we get on with our lives.

Remember, whether it‘s your offense or someone else’s, if you don’t send it away, it’s still there. God has done His part. Now you do yours and you will find harmony with God. You will find the peace you so deeply desire and so desperately need. In the end, this will not only be your road to emotional healing but also physical health.

In your Secret Place, alone with Jesus, send away the offense and the pain and see that pole of suffering crumble as you walk freely in God’s Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.


I take great joy in seeking you, and I know You take great joy in finding me.
I look to You. I am never ashamed.
Your light transforms my heart so I can smile.
I beam with pride and joy - I am Yours.”

Elizabeth Nixon

Hear more about this topic on Episode 20 of All About Relationships Podcast with Bob and Audrey.