Stop Resisting Your Path
I was thinking about the word ‘path’ today. A path is a worn-down area from frequent use that goes from one point to another. It’s the trodden track that leads you from where you are to where you want to go (or, perhaps, forced to go). It’s the way forward.
It struck me that path sounds an awful lot like ‘pathos,’ which is the Greek word for suffering. I think there’s a deep connection between path and pathos, don’t you?
Every person is on a journey from one place to another on a path of suffering. To be on this journey is to suffer, be beaten down, trodden. There’s no avoiding it.
You could also say to suffer is to be on a journey. To be suffering is not stagnant, but to be going someplace.
We try to avoid it. We try to leave the path or pathos, especially these days. We don’t want to accept the reality of our suffering. We don’t want to face our mutability or limitations or shortcomings or flaws or inabilities or restrictions. We don’t want to face the sovereignty of God’s choice in our lives, how he made us, where he placed us, and the people he put around us. But these are all part of our path of suffering and they are the only way for us to get to where he wants us to go.
Some of the existentialists, like Heidegger, spoke of ‘thrownness,’ as if each person is thrown into this life and must find his way, his purpose, his meaning. But your meaning is right beneath your feet. I believe God placed each of us on a particular path with a wink, knowing what it would take to lead us back to ourselves, and to him.
Once, humans built a tower to escape the path, to leave the ground. It came to be known as the Tower of Babel. We figured if we got high enough off the path, far enough away from our problems, then we’d be able to overcome it all. We had just been through Noah’s flood, no doubt synonymous with suffering, so this was our way of keeping a catastrophe like that from happening again, as if we could think our way out of life’s problems.
But there’s no escaping the flood, just as there’s no leaving the path. God came down from heaven and confused our language, injecting more suffering into the human race, knocking us back down like animals. It was good for us. He knew the direction we were headed up that tower would be even worse for us. Yes, there’s something worse than suffering.
We’re not called to avoid the path of suffering, but to accept the one we’re on. Each person has their own unique path of suffering, which God intends for your particular journey, and your particular joy. Each person has a cross to embrace and a path to face.
It’s also quite interesting that the word ‘Babel’ has become our word for incoherence or meaninglessness. Picture a drunken fool, babbling on and on about his life. Don’t lose the connection to the tower high above the path. The higher you go off your path–the more you try to avoid the reality of your particular pathos –the more meaningless and incoherent your life will become. In other words, meaning is found in the suffering of your path.
There’s a reason why Tolkien’s little hobbits were the ones to save the world. It’s because they were closest to the path. Besides their short height, they also had the biggest feet, or the most points of contact with the path. Pride comes before the fall, because the proud person is perched high up on Babel, but the humble person is close to the ground. Humility comes from the word humus, which means ‘earth,’ so the humble person is ‘earthed.’ She is close to the path, to her pathos, her suffering. She doesn’t try to escape her pathos, but to follow it to find the meaning of her life. And it is the humble who shall inherit the earth, because those who stay closest to their path are the ones to help the most people in the end.
God has earthed me, and now I have many restrictions on the path. I call them my ‘blessed restrictions’ because they keep me close to His heart and teach me the right way. My pathos is my path.
Stop resisting your path, so you can help those you find suffering on it with you.