Tuesday, April 18, 2017

what pain hath wrought


St John Chrysostom tells us about wisdom born of suffering today in A Year with the Church Fathers.

He says that our mother Eve acted foolishly when she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, the suffering of being expelled from the garden of Eden brought her wisdom, so that when she bore a son, she thanked God for him.

Suffering and death come into all of our lives, right? None of us are immune. And we have a choice every time this happens. We can choose to let that suffering make us better people. Or we can choose to let that suffering make us bitter people. One little letter makes a huge difference.

You've met both types, I'm pretty sure. You've met people who have suffered for years, and they are the sweetest, kindest, most loving and patient people you know. And you know the angry old person who lives in your town that has let all of their troubles turn them into a mean grouch. (BTW, let's be patient with those grouches... they can turn into sweet people if we love them. I know. I used to be a grouch myself.)

Regarding death... it's not an easy thing. It hurts to lose those we love. But our choice is not, as many would believe, between loving and losing or loving and keeping. Because in the long run, none of us keep them. Our choice is between loving and losing or not loving at all. And C.S. Lewis has some great insight on what happens if we choose not to love at all. Our hearts ARE indeed protected from the pain that comes from losing those we love. But it grows hard, like a stone, and experiences no love or life or light ever again. The only place outside of heaven, Lewis says, where our hearts are invulnerable to pain is in hell... cold and closed and empty.

So let us boldly face tomorrow, knowing that suffering and death will find us there. But we will choose to love, and we will choose to let our suffering make us better people. And we will ultimately find that the joy that those decisions bring to our lives will make our sufferings seem like nothing.

God, thank You for giving us courage to face tomorrow.