Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brother Lawrence on Suffering

In a letter dated November 17, 1690, Brother Lawrence wrote the following words that would seem strange and even unfeeling to the world. I happen to agree wholheartedly with Brother Lawrence:

I will not ask God to deliver you from your trials, but I will ask him earnestly to give you the patience and strength needed to suffer as long as he desires. Find consolation in him who keeps you fixed to the cross; he will release you when he judges it appropriate. Happy are they who suffer with him. Get used to suffering, and ask him for the strength to suffer as he wants, and for as long as he judges necessary. The worldly do not understand these truths, and I am not surprised; the reason is that they suffer as citizens of this world and not as Christians. They consider illnesses as natural afflictions and not as graces from God, and therefor they find in them only what is difficult and harsh for [our] nature. But those who regard them as coming from the hand of God, as signs of his mercy and the means he uses for their salvation, ordinarily find great sweetness and perceptible consolations in them.

The only place where I disagree with Brother Lawrence is "I will not ask God to deliver you from your trials." Certainly if our Lord asked if the cup could be passed, we can certainly pray this, just so long as our constant refrain is "thy will be done."

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