The supposed famous last words of Simon Bolivar are quoted in John Green's novel, Looking For Alaska. The book is centered around a boy named Miles who strives to answer this question and find "The Great Perhaps." His friend, Alaska, asks him this question about the labyrinth, and gets no response. She explains to him that the labyrinth is suffering; and its at that point you really start to think of the subject.
I read that book this week as I sat in my hospital bed. After finishing it in a day I sat it down and couldn't think of much else besides Alaska's big question. At the end of the book the kids in Mile's class all had to write an essay to answer the question. I decided I could benefit from writing an essay too. So after thinking about it and overthinking about it, I was finally able to get my thoughts in line.
Each one of us is walking through our own labyrinth and wondering why we are continuing to walk and how we can escape it. We are all suffering. We all face hurt. No one is immune to pain. So if suffering comes with life, than is the only way to escape suffering...through death? Sadly, this is the conclusion that billions of individuals come to. Some even act on this believe. Suicide is an attempt to escape the labyrinth. It sounds logical and reasonable. But is death really the only way out?
There are many ways we try to escape life's oppression. Some just go for the ultimate escape, while others try a more subtle approach. We can use attempts to numb the pain of suffering, and these tactics are common, and you might not even realize they are coping strategies. Examples of this are drinking, smoking, sex, money, drugs, fame, knowledge, a career, and even a hobby. Those things can all be used to help us ignore the hurt in our lives. We try to compensate for the pain and pretend like it isn't there. But we only pretend for so long before we break.
"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt." Augustus Waters said this in another John Green novel, The Fault In Our Stars. See, pain must be felt, not ignored. Yet, even in that, there is beauty. Good things are there too. Light doesn't get swallowed up in the presence of darkness. Suffering is loud, and beauty is quiet. The two go hand in hand. The only question is, which one will you choose to listen to?
If life comes with suffering, how can we eliminate the pain without ending our lives?
We can pretend the hurt isn't there or we can wish it wasn't so, but these things will eventually break you down and wear you out. But we have another option. Its not an easy option, in fact, it's the hardest choice you can make. You can choose not to let the pain in your life control how you act and live. If you don't like what you see, change the way you see it. Even in this crazy, messed up maze, there is beauty. Beauty doesn't come without grace. There is beauty in pain. Fortune and misfortune oftentimes go hand in hand. Together, they make up life. In Job 2:10, Job himself says "Shall we not accept both good gifts from God as well as the bad?"
Suffering is a part of life. You can't get rid of it without getting rid of your life as a whole. So the question remains.
How do you get out of this labyrinth?
Well, you can't. Suffering is inevitable. Or should I say that pain is inevitable. Pain is inflicted onto everyone at some point, but to suffer, well, that is your choice. I believe we've been greatly deceived in this area of our lives. We think that when trials come or pain is experienced, we need to yield to it; to bow down as if it were our master. When in reality, it's just the opposite. It's a hard task, but within in you is the power to see the good and the bad in any situation, and accept both. God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. But of love and power and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) Not only can we simply survive the labyrinth, but we can find the joy in it as well.
We don't need to escape the labyrinth. We cannot change the ways of the maze we walk, but we can learn to accept that which we can't change. 1 Peter says that by enduring through suffering finds favor with God. Is there really a greater reward then finding favor with the Most High?
In life there is both suffering. But much like pressure produces diamonds and fire refines gold, so will trials make you strong. And when they come, you have the chance to endure them. I've been bracing myself for a storm. I know I'm going to endure a trial and I know when it's coming. But when I thought ahead at the pain I was sure to face, I always pictured myself folding in and giving up. But this week I realized that I had the option of pressing on. You have that very same option. We don't need to run from anything. We just need to remember to Whom we belong. Pain isn't eternal; but the rewards from enduring it are. Seasons change and trials come and go. The suffering you're dealing with today will not last forever.
How do you escape the labyrinth?
You don't. You simply remain still and know that He is God and that this too, shall pass.