Could YODA Be Wrong?!?

Our small group tonight started a study of the book of James, our primary topic this evening was on suffering – not necessary the major life altering sufferings – but the daily struggles and trials that upset our plans and frustrate us, but that God is trying to use to form our character. It isn’t just the “big” sufferings that God uses, He used the little daily “stuff” too. In fact, at times, the major battles are easier as they are obvious, but we can easily miss the small battles that actually have a huge impact on our spiritual growth. Below is a piece I wrote awhile back that was published elsewhere, but I wanted to post to my blog for my small group and to archive it here for future reference.


Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

One of Yoda’s most famous quotes, from the second half of the Star Wars saga, is his ominous warning to the young Anakin, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suf-fer-ing.” (Did you read those words with the appropriate Yoda inflection?)

I certainly don’t doubt that fear leads to anger, or that anger leads to hate, and hate certainly leads to suffering. What I’d like to challenge from this sage quote is the assumption that the worst possible state of being is suffering.

The point of Yoda’s warning is that we are to avoid fear, anger, and especially hate because they lead to the ultimate evil: suffering. ANYTHING to avoid suffering! Please, do not fear… you may suffer! Please, do not get angry or hate… or you may suffer! And suffering is to be avoided at all costs! According to Yoda, suffering is the worst possible outcome of any situation! It must be, because Yoda concludes his platatude with ‘suffering.’ He adds not, “Suffering leads to….” for there is nothing worse than suffering. (Insteresting, that despite the Jedi’s lack of fear or anger so much suffering still entered their personal worlds as the saga unfolded, could they have been avoiding the wrong outcome?)

In sharp contrast to the wise Yoda, are the words of Jesus Christ, who promises “in this world you will have troubles.” (John 16:33) Better translated in the KJV as “Tribulation.” I’m not about you, but tribulation sounds a lot like suffering to me! And we don’t LIKE to suffer! And Jesus doesn’t say we might, we says we WILL! So what do we do when we suffer as Christians? I’ve often tried to make my response to be, “what is God trying to teach me in this?”

Oswald Chambers, as he often does, shatters even my best efforts to look at things from God’s point of view, when he writes, “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in his hands, to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.” I read that and was floored. It may not be “what is God trying to teach me” – for that is still self-focused (what will I get out of this?) – instead, it may be instead, “what is God doing in me for the sake of others?”

Oswald continues, “God’s way is always the way of suffering.” What would Yoda have to say to that? We resonate with Yoda’s warning because we are motivated to AVOID suffering, but God says that suffering is THE WAY to His purposes – purposes that are much lofter than merely the avoidance of pain.

Don’t undestand your suffering? Take heart, Oswald comforts, “We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly.” So rather than rush to understand, or even get through it, rush to obey.

He suggests when we suffer we ask ourselves, “Is Jesus educating you into a personal intimacy with Himself?” I’m learning that Jesus is ever pressing for only one thing – not greater ministry works – but simply genuine intimacy with Himself. He adds, “This can never be until a personal need arises out of a personal problem.”

Without a personal knowable God, Yoda’s highest acheivement can only a lack of suffering, and even the great master jedi could not avoid that! Fortunately, we have a higher goal than a comfortable life, we can know our Creator! But that knowledge comes only through suffering, for the simple reason (I hate to admit) that suffering is the only thing that seems to draw us Godward. Without suffering – would we ever truly completely turn to God? Apparently not.

Many things lead to suffering, but suffering leads to intimacy with our Creator, so avoid it not!

Suffering, Avoid Not.
Leads to Intimacy with Creator, It Does!


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  1. Honestly, I never thought I’d have spiritual reflection conversations inspired by the words of Yoda… but then again, I’m just getting to know you Karl. :)

    I couldn’t agree with you more. As I was reading this I couldn’t get the image out of my head that God wants to use us, and he desires broken vessels, brokenness that comes through suffering. Jesus explained to his disciples that taking his cup was to take up pain and suffering. Gene Edward’s book “A Tale of Three Kings” illustrates this so beautifully!

    That’s the biggest difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of Yoda. Yoda’s wisdom is conventional. When you hear it, you just agree with it. It’s almost formulaic. “That makes sense.” However, the wisdom of Jesus is completely unconventional. It is never what you expect. “If you want to be great, you must become less.” What the heck?

    I won’t hold it against Yoda though. He just doesn’t know Jesus yet…

  2. Yoda’s advice seen in its proper context is imminently practical and sensible, and not at all at conflict with the teachings of Jesus. It is even wise. No one claimed the “wisdom of Yoda” is comparable to the “wisdom of God,” but neither does it conflict in this instance. Yoda never says to avoid suffering and God says that suffering will come to all of us at times. Yoda says that fear will cause great suffering (on its way to the dark side). Fear is essentially avoidance. Yoda is merely saying that in giving in to this fear you will bring about suffering anyway (and likely worse). Suffering in the natural course of events as God sends it is to be met head on, and ostensibly changes one for the better. Causing one’s own suffering independently of God’s will for one because of one’s fear is obviously an absurdly bad move; and trapping oneself within a well of violence and despair because of unexamined and unchecked fears (and their downward spiral of anger and hate) is indeed the kind of suf-fer-ing equated with evil and the dark side. This, presumably would be something all people should try to avoid, whether the advice comes from scripture or a two-foot green alien with big ears.

    Editor’s note: Moderated for length. The comment was longer than original post. I removed insults (it is my site, I don’t have to share those) and some false assumptions or misunderstandings of the post, but overall, it was an excellent comment that was very well summarized in the closing paragraph above. I have saved the entire comment, thank you for submitting it. It is true, that fear was Yoda’s primary concern, not the suffering. And to the comment author – I was not referring to suffering of the “everyday and everykind of inconveniences and aches and pains an challenges of life.” I was very much referring to the “deep, profound suffering” that you address in your post. This was written in a time of great suffering when I had to chose not to avoid it, to deny fear and the path of avoidance, and face the suffering head on. Yoda’s advice to Anakin to deny all attachments was wrong. “Attachments” (love) is what makes us human, something Yoda was unable to understand, and helped push Anakin toward his fall. If he’s been allowed to love in a healthy context he may never have fallen to the dark side. He fell in a pursuit of forbidden love. It is only one aspect of his fall, one that Palpatine exploited, granted, but it was a major factor.

    At any rate, in the end, I think you would find if we could talk back and forth that we both agree, but we were expressing it differently. My “Could Yoda be wrong?” was intended to draw in deeper thinkers who love wisdom, glad it did!

  3. I think you didn’t understand Yoda.
    The fear, anger and hate are what you are feeling. The suffering is what you inflict on others (that you hate).

    You can argue that when you feel fear, anger and hate you are suffering.

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