Is Suffering Redemptive?

Is Suffering Redemptive?

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The existence of suffering, and how to deal with it, challenges everyone. Does suffering have any meaning? Can it even be redemptive and a means of spiritual growth in Christ?

In the video interview embedded above, originally aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1973, a journalist puts some of these questions to Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, the archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh in Great Britain and Ireland from 1957 to shortly before his death in 2003. A popular author of several books on prayer and a regular guest on radio and television broadcasts, Metropolitan Anthony became well known in the English-speaking world for his efforts to share Orthodox Christian spirituality with the modern world.

When asked if suffering is redemptive, the Metropolitan begins his response by saying:

In itself suffering is not redemptive. Suffering is redemptive only if it is connected with love and when the suffering is a result of giving one’s life or giving something of one’s self. In itself, suffering is maybe a curse and a hell…but I think that, this being said, it is true that suffering, when endured in the name of love, for the sake of love — ultimately for the sake of God and of man in a personal way — is redemptive.

Watch the video for the full conversation.

Although such events are rare today in the West, Orthodox Christian church leaders contributed to public broadcasts with some regularity in the 70s and 80s. As just one example, consider this CBS Documentary about the life and legacy of Fr. Alexander Schmemann.

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Seraphim Danckaert

Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.