“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

The scripture above reminded me of something I read about evolving spiritually in “The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth” by psychiatrist M. Scott Peck. There is no way of escaping all emotional pain in life. But Peck asks “Is it possible to spiritually evolve to a level of consciousness at which the pain of living is at least diminished? … The answer is yes, because once suffering is completely accepted, it ceases in a sense to be suffering.” Buddhism takes this path in attempt to deal with suffering. Peck continues, “It is also yes, because the unceasing practice of discipline leads to mastery, and the spiritually evolved person is masterful in the same sense that an adult is masterful in relation to the child. Matters that present great problems to the child and cause great pain may be of no consequence to the adult at all.” I remember seeing a child crying because he could not have a lollypop. I thought, “If the greatest problem I had in life was not having a lollypop, I would have a heavenly life.” But by then I had much more serious problems both emotionally and physically. As I age, the physical problems and pain get ever greater; but as I have evolved spiritually, my emotional problems and pain have diminished. Indeed, the greater problems have changed my perspective; so I don’t “sweat the small stuff.” A whole series of books have been written about not sweating the small stuff as a way to happiness or at least contentment. If you continue to get upset with many things, you might even be called “childish.” And people may advise you to “grow up.” Peck sees becoming a mature adult and becoming evolved spiritually as pretty much the same thing.

Then Peck writes, “Finally, the answer is yes because the spiritually evolved individual is … an extraordinarily loving individual, and with his or her extraordinary love comes extraordinary joy.” I Corinthians 13 agrees with this final idea. It says in verse 7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” in the sense of “triumphs over all things.” And the chapter concludes with verse 13, “So faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Peck has written about emotional pain; but there is also physical pain, which can be even harder to endure. Here believing, which means trusting, comes in, and also hope. I trust God’s unconditional and unlimited love to ultimately free from all physical pain by taking me home with him to heaven when I die. Yet if I still see people who I love, which will then be everyone, suffering, I will feel emotional pain. But I will have evolved spiritually enough that I can bear and endure that pain, as God does. This is my faith and my hope; and it is confirmed by the fact that I have found that emotional suffering born of love is somehow beautiful, because Godlike love is beautiful.

The Rev. Walter Williams has been serving the Lord since he graduated from seminary in 1966. He currently resides in McAlisterville. To comment on his column, send a letter to Standard Journal, 21 N. Arch St., Milton, Pa. 17847 or e-mail newsroom@standard-journal.com.

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