I have only to endure. I am here to be worked upon.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ever feel like a punching bag? That life is just one blow after another? Can it be that we're the victims of some sadistic higher power that is continually punishing us, torturing us?
I admit that sometimes that's the way it feels, but I think there's something far deeper occurring. I think, like Emerson said, something is working on us. Something is shifting, shaping, changing us into more than we were. And hence our job is just to endure. To ride out the changes to get to the other side of the trials.
But yes, you have to break through to get the benefits. Consider this from Chin-Ning Chu's Thick Face, Black Heart.
...the true nature of crisis is an opportunity in disguise....It is within the process of endurance that opportunity reveals itself. Opportunity always exists within a crisis situation, but when we lose heart in a devastating crisis, we are blinded by our own emotion. When we can calmly endure the unendurable, the opportunity for a better alternative surfaces and reveals itself.Think of when a parent loses a child. The natural temptation would be to blank out, to deaden (perhaps through alcohol or depression) being conscious. The pain is just too great. But if a person in such a terrible situation can somehow stay conscious through all that pain they often come out as utterly remarkable people. As the saying goes: 'Pain can make us bitter or better.'
Look at the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As a young politician many thought him smug and overbearing. A pain in the butt really. Then at thirty-nine he suffered polio and its accompanying paralysis. For years he tried to regain use of his legs.
Years later, when he was president, someone enquired how he managed to stay so patient facing the incredible pressure of the presidency and he said:
After trying for two years to wiggle one big toe, all else seems easy.
So, are times tough? Just hang in there. You don't have to conquer them to win through to the reward. You only have to endure.