Question:

How can we get stronger from pain? Certainly everything G‑d does is for the good, but when we don't see the good, our natural reaction is to be sad or depressed. In my case, for example, I have been subjected to pain after pain. When I get over one problem, something else comes along! It has reached the point that I dread when I see that things are getting better, because I know that something else is waiting in the wings... How can I get stronger like this?

I imagine that you might not be capable of answering this question ... because who are we to understand G‑d's plans. But maybe you could help me a little bit! Thank you!

Answer:

You ask a very good question, one that is difficult to answer, especially in our times of exile, when we really cannot fully fathom the power or point of pain, frustration, sorrow or difficulties. We are promised that in the Era of the Redemption, G‑d will wipe away all our tears and the source of our sorrow. Moreover, not only will G‑d wipe away these tears, but in so doing, He will make us comprehend how the tears and pain was for our benefit.

How can something so negative be for our benefit?

Really it can happen on two levels—on the first level we can come to realize that the pain was there for our benefit, for the outcome of it was something positive, even though the pain itself was so difficult to endure. This, we are promised will happen. We will come to realize how the difficulty and pain of exile and all personal and collective pains had a positive outcome.

But more so, on a deeper level, G‑d also promises to erase the source of our pain, so that we not only perceive that it was painful but for our benefit, but the pain itself will actually be seen as something good (not only for a future outcome). Of course, this level is completely beyond us, now, at this point, in exile. We cannot fathom how the pain, sorrow or frustration can essentially be something totally positive.

But we can try to feel a little taste of the first level, where we see pain as something that is there for our eventual benefit. Let's explore how we can do this.

When a person is in pain, it often creates a stronger relationship between him and G‑d. It is in those moments of difficulty or pain that we cry out to our Maker and often (perhaps oddly) feel His presence so strongly in our lives. So often when things are going smoothly, we almost "forget" about G‑d and take our lives and our blessings for granted. But in pain, we are forced to realize how dependent we are on our Maker and this can strengthens our relationship with Him.

As well, when we are in pain, we are forced to look at the bigger perspective of life. We are forced to see small or irrelevant frustrations in that context, of being small and irrelevant. We are forced not to take anything for granted and to be more appreciative of what we do have, because we realize how easily the "normal" can go askew and become abnormal. We are forced to feel gratitude for the "big" and important things in our lives, like our families, health that we have, friends, or other blessings.

In addition, when we are in pain or going through a difficulty, though it is extremely horrible, if we can survive that particular crisis, we often find deep within ourselves a source of strength that we never knew existed. Challenges, unfortunately, strengthen us to become stronger (and often, wiser) individuals.

Of course, we do not want the pain or the suffering and I hope these ideas do not sound presumptuous or indifferent to your pain. But perhaps these are some thoughts to help you along in your moments of difficulty.

May we all experience the time period when tears or pain will be completely erased.

Wishing you well,

Chana Weisberg for Chabad.org