Can anyone take away our suffering? Has anybody seen our collective humility? In the gospels there are several renditions of the rich young ruler story who approaches Jesus and asks what he might do to “inherit the kingdom of heaven”. The answer is simple but it becomes complex because we don’t like what it says to us.
Our wealth, our power, our position, our prestige and our health often get in the way of our deeper sense and experience of God’s presence in our lives, experiences and hearts, here and now.
The rich young ruler was told, the one thing you lack… “to sell all you have and give to the poor, and you shall find treasure in heaven. Come follow me.” Before we run ahead to the story’s conclusion, let’s take a pause and think in our own lives why Jesus might be giving this advice? Is it to shame those of us with means? To simply help the poor? I might suggest that it is so that both the rich and the poor will know the Love of God. A theological two-for!
As you know in your head, the math works out. The problem is that fear, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, and anger keep showing up within you and thus you need to try NOT to feel or sense those things. How can it be that you have so much and yet you are suffering inside?
Suffering is universal. If you could “buy” your way out of it, someone would have figured out how to already, and could charge a lot for it.
Your ability to be able to be okay with inner suffering (being okay with suffering is another way of describing peace) is proportional to the amount of “wealth” you perceive yourself to have in relationship to others. The more you’ve got, the harder it is to accept all the internal stuff going on with you that you don’t want to be. Certainly, you say, “if I just had more resources, or purchased this or traveled there or got this job, or that thing, or this position, then certainly I would no longer suffer inside.”
Stop kidding yourself.
“But I’ve worked so hard to achieve, to make, to save, to succeed…” you say. “All so I can avoid suffering! And you say I CAN’T avoid suffering?”
If you’re feeling sad, angry, scared, stupid, misled, self-righteous, etc. at this point in the blog, stay with that feeling you don’t want for 1 minute. Or 2 if you’re feeling really brave.
Further silence if you dare …
“When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth.” – Matthew 19:22
Point made… still had his great wealth and still suffering. If you’re finding yourself with an abundance and are still suffering, you are in good company.
Looking forward to hearing about your thoughts, feelings and experiences.