“May you be worthy of your suffering.”
What an odd thing to say.
The notion of one “being worthy of one’s sufferings” comes from the famous Russian writer Feodor Dostoevsky, author of Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868-1869), The Possessed (1871), and The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880).
The idea of turning Dostoevsky’s thought into a blessing is ours.
Many people, however, probably wouldn’t take it that way. Steeped in the idea that suffering makes a person’s character suspect– that people get what they deserve– some would no doubt interpret the words “may you be worthy of your suffering” as an artful slight– a wish that the recipient be as mean as the meanness of life.1
They would be wrong.
1One way to avoid misunderstanding could be to include ourselves in the thought– “May we be worthy of our sufferings.”
“May you be worthy of your sufferings” can be a blessing. It can be a wish that the recipient be equal (a worthy match) to the troubles of life– that disaster and disappointments be met with character and cheerfulness– and that would be a good thing.
But there is a yet higher understanding of the expression “may you be worthy of your sufferings.” And that meaning is this. Suffering– even unjust, irrational suffering– can be made to serve a virtuous cause.
Evil can be overcome by good.
Thus the blessing “may you be worthy of your sufferings” can be understood as a hope that the recipient will live for a noble purpose– a purpose worthy of suffering– and that the nobility of that “calling” be matched with a comparable nobility of character.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ– 2 Thess 1:11-12 (ESV)
Tags: Feodor Dostoevsky