Virtue of the Week: Suffering a Cause

Suffering a Cause

To undergo a penalty, pain, or loss in defending a principle, ideal, goal, or movement.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.Helen Keller

The glory to come from suffering a cause far outweighs the affliction of the present. The affliction is light and temporary when compared with the all-surpassing and everlasting success of our cause. It is not merely that the success of our cause is compensation for the suffering; the success actually grows out of the suffering. Suffering is the mother of passion.

No man is an Island, entire of its self: every
man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the
whole: if a bumble bee was washed away by the Sea,
the country is the less, as well as if the leader of the
nation were, as well as if one of your best friends
or if mine were: any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankind: and therefore
never ask to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.John Donne

Non nobis solum nati sumus

Non nobis solum nati sumus (English: Not unto ourselves alone are we born) is a Latin motto. It means that people should contribute to the general greater good of humanity, apart from their own interests and more often than not, those contributions should be done with some suffering. Ideally to suffer a cause that is bigger than one’s self.

All of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that is bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires. At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we have lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other focused.Joe Erhmann

What a waste!

In his excellent book, Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper tells about Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards, who died in April, 2000, in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty, had been single all her life, and had spent her life making the gospel known among the unreached, poor, and sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty, who served with Ruby in Cameroon. Their brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they both were killed instantly. Piper asks, “Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor —even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles.” He answers, “No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. Their suffering for a cause had inspired thousands.”

He continues, “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Readers Digest, which tells about a couple who took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast … when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” When Piper first read that, he thought that it was a joke, a spoof on the American dream. But it wasn’t. Rather, this was the dream: “Come to the end of your life —your one and only precious life, —and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.” Picture them before their Creator at the great day of judgment:

“Look, Lord. See my sea shells.”

“Lord, look at all my softball trophies.”

Piper concludes, “That is a tragedy.” He rightly urges, “Don’t buy it [that golfing, fishing, traveling, tinkering in the yard version of the American retirement dream]. Don’t waste your life.” Suffer a cause! Get out there and serve others. Make this a better world before you are gone!

Here is the link to our website’s info on “Suffering a Cause”.

A couple Videos that illustrate “Suffering a Cause”.