The first time I learned the term creative suffering was in reading Iulia de Beausobre's Creative Suffering* a talk she gave to theology students in England. What she is describing is how she psychologically and spiritually survived torture under the Stalin regime.

This led to further study about how we humans can use our imaginations and creativity to heal which is sometimes as mysterious as our suffering.  I use the term to describe a psycho-spiritual process involving ever-deepening phases of 
acceptance, discernment and faith. 

For 27 years, I've witnessed how individuals from different backgrounds, cultures and countries manage in the face of collective catastrophes, natural and manmade. Those who learn not only how to survive but how to thrive have three things in common that resemble the stages in creative suffering - acceptance of what has happened; discernment in what needs to be done to heal and faith in that which is mysterious and greater than the little self or ego. 

Some call this mystery god. Some call it soul. The Jungians call it the archetypal Self.  

* de Beausobre, Iulia. Creative Suffering (Fairacres Publications Book 88) . SLG Press.