Does it sound strange, ironic or even bizarre to state that adversity is a gift to each of us?  Clearly, we would not consciously choose to suffer or to see others suffer.

But adversity can be seen as a gift to us on a deeper metaphysical level.  Mystics of all religious backgrounds have viewed suffering as the ultimate lesson in compassion.  When we go through difficult times, we should at least feel compassion and empathy for others.  Only when we have truly shared an emotional state of being can we legitimately offer caring and compassion which carries with it the sense of authenticity which truly heals.

Suffering offers us a shared sense of what it means to be human.  It allows us to at least temporarily dismantle our self-created fortress, the defense against feeling too much of another's pain.

Suffering is also a karmic gift to us.  When someone in need seeks our help, we are given a special opportunity to offer charity, caring, empathy.  To selflessly offer something of ourselves to another is the highest form of spiritual enlightenment.  The trap is to avoid letting our ego take all the credit for "doing good".  That is why the medieval Jewish physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides stated that the greatest charity is that which is  given anonymously. 

The beggars of Jerusalem understand the Kabbalistic notion of charity.  They brazenly invite donations, understanding that their approach IS a gift–the opportunity to do good is all we can desire.  

The rest is up to us.


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