Personally I like to distinguish between pain and suffering. I go by an idea I came across which says that pain is inevitable, but suffering arises from resistance to that pain. I really appreciated the following quote, and it is obvious the author is referring to the inevitable aspects of suffering or pain:
“One of the keys to a creative spirituality of suffering has something to do with its inevitability. If life always bring suffering with it, then it need never be sought but merely accepted. Every human life will have a measure of pain in it at different stages of the life process.
An acceptance of suffering gives us all the suffering we need, so to speak. The question is not whether we shall suffer or how much but what our attitude to it will be and what we shall make of it….
The sacrament of the present moment intends to make us aware of the meaningfulness of life and of the presence of God in each moment. It asks us not to look to the past and wish for something that was gone, or to the future to desire something which might never exist. It suggests, instead, that we live in the present moment, whether that moment be wonderful or frightening, and that we find in that moment something important to experience.
Each moment of life is sacramental because it reveals God to us and brings grace with it. Each moment makes us aware of who we are and enters into our life story. Some of these moments may be suffering moments, but these too teach us about the texture and quality of our lives and the nature and character of the universe we inhabit.
We know then that life brings more than enough suffering with it. We need not ever seek suffering for its own sake or inflict it on others. Suffering becomes a creative and contributing life experience when we allow life itself to determine the occasion and the intensity, the moment and the magnitude of the pain.
Every person suffers sooner or later. The poor suffer physical deprivation, but many experience stronger bonds with those they love and fewer illusions about life. The affluent suffer emotional distance from themselves and others, but receive more esteem and comfort. Those whose lives are socially unsuccessful suffer failure in the public order, but may be closer to their families and less infected with greed. The successful suffer stress, endless expectations for better performance and vicious competition, but they gain a sense of satisfaction with themselves and the acclaim of others.”
Anthony T. Padovano, A Celebration of Life