Embrace Suffering

Embrace Suffering


Lessons learned in the woods and in the back of an ambulance

-Jonathan Harned 03/31/24


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

-James 1:5

Good morning!

Jonathan here. I have a heavy read for you, but I promise it will end on a positive note!


I will not write anything that I don’t think will directly benefit you, you have my word.




As an EMT and part-time Wildland Firefighter, I’ve seen a lot of shit. I’ve seen unbelievable feats of selflessness, of empathy, and I’ve seen suffering.


All my life, I’ve feared suffering. I viewed it as the world’s punishment for errors- to direct us back to where we were supposed to be going. But when I started to see all these people I looked up to- heroes, artists, warriors, poets, their path to become who they were didn’t just include suffering, suffering WAS their path.


The messaging of our culture constantly points us towards the path away from pain, because pain must be the result of making a mistake. When I began my journey towards becoming a firefighter last year, it quickly became obvious to me that suffering wasn’t a punishment, it wasn’t an unfortunate reality to deal with on my path, it WAS my path.



Pain comes in a lot of forms, and they’re not all beneficial. Assume that I’m not talking about terminal cancer when I talk about the benefits of pain. I’m talking about what meets you on your way to becoming more.

Here’s the reality. Suffering is the only things that grows us into who we were meant to be, but it is also a point of fear that keeps us from stepping forward. How can we overcome this fear of the suffering that comes with building muscle, failing, being ridiculed, looking stupid, and hurting?

I’m an accomplished mathematician and I made an equation to help.


Try to memorize this complicated formula to use in your day-to-day life.

Every day that I thought I was going to collapse and die doing wildland fire built me into a stronger, more capable, more compassionate man. It brought me closer to God. I realized that I wanted more. I needed to learn answers to questions I didn’t know I had. It became my classroom, not a punishment.

Suffering became an indicator I was going the right direction. It became positive.

Before I did wildland, I asked God for strength and wisdom for my path in front of me. I thought it would come to me in some “flash” of enlightenment, instead God gave me the opportunity to learn it. My prayers stopped feeling abstract, and like I actually had a direct line to talk to my creator, because I did.


Spiritual Mumbo-Jumbo

I understand not everyone here believes in God- and that’s OK! Everyone still enjoys a little stoicism from time to time, and the best difference between God’s word and the words of ancient philosophers is the Bible doesn’t teach us to not care about anything, we are encouraged to learn into what we are doing, not just with our bodies but with our full hearts, and being emotionally present so that we will be built to be better.


James Chapter 1:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Phillipians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Be careful when you pray- God might answer you, and his answer may not be an instant enlightenment, but an opportunity to learn. Don’t be afraid that your path will break you, ask God for strength to endure what you couldn’t power through on your own. He WANTS to help you. He WANTS to see you win.


Happy Easter.

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