BY: JACQUELINE LEE
“How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?
In his novel, Looking for Alaska, John Green uses Simon Bolivar’s famous quote, “Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth” to pose two thought provoking questions. What is the labyrinth he is referring to? How is someone supposed to escape from it? Green’s character Alaska Young answers both. The labyrinth that Simon Bolivar refers to is not the labyrinth of life and death, but a labyrinth of suffering. If so, then how does one find a way out of the never-ending maze that is pain and suffering? Suffering seems infinite and manifests itself in continuously
Romans 5:3-5 puts it simply, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV). Of course, this is easier said than done. Everyone on this earth suffers in his or her own way. To every single person, just as their fingerprints are uniquely theirs, so are their struggles. Whether it is physical pain, emotional pain, or spiritual warfare, no one will truly understand what anyone else is going through because we have not shared the same level of experience as anyone else. Because this is the case, it is so easy to shut yourself off from the rest of the world because there isn’t anyone that could possibly feel what you feel and hurt as you hurt. To become self-centered and victimize yourself. To make everything about you. It is so easy to fall into this circular mindset yet we cannot forget the Truth. That through the suffering you are producing character and character produces hope and God promises us that hope is not in vain because God’s love covers us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV) and that ultimate sacrifice is evidence of the magnitude of His love. It is an overflowing love that covers us completely. It is what we receive as the result of our suffering, and for that we must find joy.
There was a moment in my life where I doubted God. I doubted his existence and asked myself over and over again, “Does God really exist?” And even through the lowest point of my spiritual journal, I was shrouded by his grace. When everything seemed to be going wrong, somehow—miraculously—everything became right. Whether it was my struggle with friends, struggle with my family’s finances, or the struggle for my future; just when things seemed impossible to fix, God came in at the very last second and resolved all my problems one by one. Even in the darkest times of suffering, He was there as if He was begging me to open my eyes. And when I did, it was extraordinary. The greatness of His love. He had continued to love me even when I betrayed him. How could I ever forget such a love? Even if I am struggling, there will always be the light of God’s love shining through that labyrinth to show me the way. I wish to tell Alaska Young, the way to escape the labyrinth of suffering is not straight and fast. The way is to rejoice in the journey for you are not alone. God’s love will follow you until the ends of the earth and then beyond.
 John Green, Looking for Alaska, (New York: Speak Penguin Group, 2005) 157-8.
 Gabriel García Márquez, The General and his Labyrinth (1990)
 John 3:16