Hauerwas on suffering and hope

Suffering is no fun, as Paul knew. Why, then, should we rejoice in it (Rom 5)? We do so only when the sufferings come to us as gift. And we are only able to receive them as such when we hope. Christian hope puts a spin on our suffering, but it is a different spin than that for which it is commonly mistaken, namely the spin of explanation. Hope does not explain to us why we suffer; indeed, precisely because we hope, we recognize that our suffering lies beyond present explanation. Instead, hope places us squarely in a narrative in which our suffering can be endured and accordingly made part of our life. As we enter this narrative we are given the grace to see our suffering as leading somewhere; as a part of a journey that stretches before us toward a destination that includes sharing in the glory of God. Put abstractly this destination sounds fanciful. But Paul does not mean it abstractly. Our sufferings are not so much something that will someday (in the great beyond) bear fruit. Rather they are a form of our participation in Christ.

Stanley Hauerwas and Charles Pinches, "On Developing Hopeful Virtues" in Christians Among the Virtues.


James Goetz said…
This made me think about my former athletic days. I enjoyed the rigorous training and competition that included suffering. I assume that both endorphins and seeing my athletic progress helped me to enjoy the suffering. And I see an athletic analogy for seeing suffering as a gift.

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