Friday, March 23, 2018

Argh! What a Wonderful Word

August 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

“Argh!” is the essential 4-letter word for me.

Like Charlie Brown I use it a lot: when my kite is being eaten by a tree, when the ball is pulled out from under my kicking foot at the last second and when I’m hit with a diagnosis that makes no sense. After the blow, I bow my head, cover my eyes and Argh! comes up from the bottom my aching heart.

Argh! is what we say if we take the sponge of bitter gall and what we sigh if we accept the rock that Jacob laid his head on when he saw the angels ascending and descending from Heaven. It is our groaned response to the extra insult to injury and to the uncomfortable pillow we must rest on to get the revelation.

Argh! is a short and simple Dutch word, onomatopoeia, with a very “English” definition:

“An interjection or exclamation describes a noun without a grammatical connection with the rest of the sentence and simply expresses emotion on the part of the speaker, although most interjections have clear definitions. Filled pauses such as uh, er, um, are also considered interjections.”

The best part of the definition is “…and simply expresses emotion on the part of the speaker.”

It’s not only a word that imitates a sound, but a sound that may say more about suffering than all the deep wisdoms theologians and philosophers have made us suffer through since the beginning of time.

Consider Comedian Woody Allen’s flow of logic in this statement. “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness,”

I think Woody should just say “Argh!”

When we ask other “experts” if suffering is from God, some say “yes” and some say “no,” adding to our frustration.

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ”Blessed are they that mourn,” wrote author C.S. Lewis.

To C.S. I respond, “Argh!”

“If you suffer, thank God! — it is a sure sign that you are alive.,” said English Author Elbert Hubbard. “Hey Doc, don’t worry about my pulse and my heart beat just stick me with something sharp. If I say ‘ouch!’ and yell ‘Praise God’ you know I’m ok.”


The opposite is expressed by others.

“Suffering is not good for the soul, unless it teaches you to stop suffering,” says Jane Roberts, New Age spiritual teacher.

“To become a spectator of one’s own life is to escape the suffering of life,” wrote writer Oscar Wilde. So Oscar, are you telling me I have to either participate or find a way out to avoid pain? I really don’t want either, do I?


“It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive,” wrote English novelist William Somerset Maugham.

I’ve certainly seen that. Be happy in suffering or not. Bitterness is the other white meat.

So suffering is a necessary part of life?

Brazilian Poet Paulo Coelho answers, “But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for,”

Somehow the poets find romance, honor, and maybe even purpose in the Argh! oh my.

“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; to forgive wrongs darker than death or night; to defy power which seems omnipotent; to love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates.” Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet.

“…till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates,” my Argh! runs aground on that one.

Consider this old Dutch proverb: “Man suffers most from the suffering he fears, but never appears, therefore he suffers more then God meant him to suffer.” Maybe I can go along with that and give it a mild Argh! if I didn’t fear it being true.

Surely this next statement was said after the Argh! was over:

“Suffering is the price of being alive, and it is music and singing and art that has helped me live through some of the most difficult things that have happened to me,” wrote folk singer Judy Collins.

And so there may be hope in the Argh! and good in the grief. Could that be the definition of “good grief?”

The Bible may back that up by declaring: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4).

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering ” Ben Okri, Nigerian author.

And so Argh! is a creative thing, fashioned to move us forward beyond a life that is full of suffering, right?

Job was the ultimate sufferer. God never did tell him why he was suffering or give him the blow by blow replay of his debate with Satan. Job’s friends came and argued with him and even his wife told him to curse God and die. Finally God told Job that it was enough for him to know that God was God and Job was simply a man. So, what was Job’s final conclusion on suffering?

“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:3.

“…things too wonderful for me to know.”


And a soft quiet Argh!

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2 Responses to “Argh! What a Wonderful Word”
  1. Sherri Pardo says:

    Great article on the subject of suffering! I am reminded of “How Firm a Foundation,” one of my favorite old hymns, one verse of which is as follows:

    “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”


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