Following up on my earlier post about 16 resolutions, or thoughts to live by, inspired by this article at Brainpickings.org. Here is the ninth by Simone Weil, a 1942 entry from her book First and Last Notebooks.
The way to make use of physical pain. When suffering no matter what degree of pain, when almost the entire soul is inwardly crying “Make it stop, I can bear no more,” a part of the soul, even though it be an infinitesimally small part, should say: “I consent that this should continue throughout the whole of time, if the divine wisdom so ordains.” The soul is then split in two. For the physically sentient part of the soul is — at least sometimes — unable to consent to pain. This splitting in two of the soul is a second pain, a spiritual one, and even sharper than the physical pain that causes it.
A similar use can be made of hunger, fatigue, fear, and of everything that imperatively constrains the sentient part of the soul to cry: I can bear no more! Make it stop! There should be something in us that answers: I consent that it should continue up to the moment of death, or that it should not even finish then, but continue for ever. Then it is that the soul is as if divided by a two-edged sword.
To make use in this way of the sufferings that chance inflicts upon us is better than inflicting discipline upon oneself.
Of course no one wants hard times and suffering, but I think we grow the most during the hard times. It helps us learn compassion, understanding, and we can try to practice maintaining our inner peace in the face of storms. If we can embrace the positive side of pain we will suffer less and gain more than if we fight against it.
What is that saying? Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional? I think that is where she is going with this.
Simone Weil (February 3, 1909–August 24, 1943)
Simone Weil was born in Paris, and she was a teacher and political activist. There is more information about here in this Wikipedia article.