Community of Suffering: How Sharing Pain Heals Lives

April 23, 2010   •  Posted in: 

When calamity strikes us, it often does so when others around us are living calm lives. Like a tornado that touches down only on a single house in a subdivision, we are struck while everyone else is left standing. We feel marked, singled out, different. Our personal chaos takes place while others continue to live their everyday lives.

The first question we ask is, “Why me?”


When breast cancer hit at 32, Randi was caught completely off guard. She was young. This wasn’t supposed to happen. When her hair began to fall out from the chemotherapy treatments, she felt strange no matter what she did to hide it. No wig, no hat, no scarf looked right. Angry that nothing seemed to work, she started making excuses for staying at home. If she couldn’t conceal her baldness with a hat outdoors, she’d hide it by staying indoors. And it wasn’t just external things like the hat. It seemed that when she did want to talk about the cancer, the person she was speaking to avoided the subject like the plague. If she didn’t want to talk about it, sure enough, someone would call her up to find out how she was doing. At those times, the sympathy from healthy people was more than she could bear.

Living with deep pain can be an all-encompassing experience. The pain keeps drawing our focus back to itself. Inwardly focused, it’s easy to believe that other people don’t understand what we’re going through. Our pain becomes a badge — a “C” for cancer, a “D” for divorce, an “L” for the loss of a loved one. The pain becomes our identity. So, as we look around at others who wear no such badge, we assume we have nothing in common. We feel alone.

However, suffering is universal. Since many of us choose to suffer in private, we are often completely unaware of the individual paths to healing others have taken. We assume, since others appear normal, that nothing challenging or hurtful has happened to them. If we investigated further, we’d be amazed at the wealth of experience, help, and compassion that’s available through others.

The solution is confession. James tells us that we are to “confess [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16). Pain is not necessarily sin, though much of our pain comes because of sin. Yet confession is cleansing.

We need to be open and honest with each other about the pain in our lives. We need to be willing to ask. When asked, we need to be willing to share. We need to be willing to pray for one another. This is the connection that brings healing.

SOURCE: Chapter 7: “Connections,” God Can Help You Heal by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

Review Blog Schedule (every weekday devoted to excerpts from a different book by Dr. Jantz)

Follow Dr. Jantz on Twitter

Fan Dr. Jantz on Facebook

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

Read More

Related Posts

Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  February 24, 2022

It’s understandable if people who are struggling with depression ask themselves this question. After all, depression can be disorienting. People often don’t notice their memory skills are affected until after they are diagnosed with depression. Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and the general scientific consensus is that...

The Link Between Hypoglycemia and Depression

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  August 17, 2016

Helen came to The Center • A Place of HOPE suffering from anxiety and depression.  Her moods swung from hopelessness and lethargy to being stressed out and anxious.  If it wasn't one, it was the other.  Both were taking their toll, and she wanted an end to them. Helen was...

Open the Door to Your Problems

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  February 12, 2018

It is so important, as you work toward taking charge of your life, that you begin to insist on dealing with reality instead of perception.  As I've counseled people, I've been amazed at how deceptive people can be to one another.  But the person you and I are best at...

Get Started Now

"*" indicates required fields

By providing your phone number, you consent to receive calls or texts from us regarding your inquiry.
Main Concerns*
By submitting this form, I agree to receive marketing text messages from at the phone number provided. Message frequency may vary, and message/data rates may apply. You can reply STOP to any message to opt out. Read our Privacy Policy
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Whole Person Care

The whole person approach to treatment integrates all aspects of a person’s life:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Physical health
  • Spiritual peace
  • Relational happiness
  • Intellectual growth
  • Nutritional vitality