Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

God whispers to us in our pleasures

September 12, 2009

God whispers to us in our pleasures speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C. S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 1957, Collins, p.81

Until the evil man finds evil unmistakably present in his existence, in the form of pain, he is enclosed in illusion. Once pain has roused him he knows that he is in some way or other ” up against” the real universe…Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.


Suffering without purpose is unbearable

September 9, 2009

Until the advent of the ascetic ideal, man, the animal man, had no meaning at all on this earth. His existence was aimless; the question, ‘Why is there such a thing as man?’ could not have been answered….behind every great human destiny there sounded as a refrain a yet greater “in vain!” This is precisely what the ascetic ideal means: that something was lacking, that man was surrounded by a fearful void—he did not know how to justify, to account for, to affirm himself; he suffered from the problem of his meaning…

He also suffered otherwise, he was in the main a sickly animal: but his problem was not suffering itself, but that there was no answer to the crying question, “why do I suffer?”

Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far…man would rather will nothingness than not will.

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 28

God’s Sovereignty

August 24, 2009

…an omnipotent God visits upon sinful men and nations just and inevitable punishments…There is not therefore the smallest accident which may seem unto men as falling out by chance, and of no consequence, but that the same is caused by God to effect somewhat else by ; yea, and oftentimes to effect things of the greatest worldly importance, either presently or in many years after, when the occasions are either not considered or forgotten.

Sir Walter Raleigh, History of the World, in Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, p.307



The Story of the Taoist Farmer

August 23, 2009

This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to condole over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?”

A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, “What makes you think this is good fortune?”

The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?”

A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.

As told by Executive editor, Elise Hancock, in the Johns Hopkins Magazine, November 1993, page 2, in section entitled Editor’s Note. Source
But for the Christian: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.32). We don’t know why suffering has come, but we know who has brought it about and that he has done it for our ultimate good (conformity to Christ).

But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,

October 3, 2008

Shortly after the butchery of the First World War, Edward Shillito captured these thoughts in his poem, Jesus of the Scars: 

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now:
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.