Good may not be so good, sometimes

It has been a few years since I have read Perelandra. I came across a passage tonight that made it clear it has been a few years too long since I read it, and it was just the sort of thing I needed in a day of much trouble. I have made a couple trivial edits that do not change the sense of the passage in context, but also hopefully remove the need to explain the context:

The picture of the [good] you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished—if it were possible to wish—you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real [good] insipid by thinking of the other.

We get it into our heads that we know what is good for us, and it is the only thing we want, and then when we receive something else we become dissatisfied—particularly if that something else is a good that we would rather not have at all. We would discard the good that we have received as something worthless. But God does not give us worthless gifts. There is a bit from The Imitation of Christ that says much the same sort of thing (or, at any rate, Lewis put me in mind of it):

BLESSED be Your name forever, O Lord, Who have willed that this temptation and trouble come upon me. I cannot escape it, yet I must fly to You that You may help me and turn it to my good. Now I am troubled, Lord, and my heart is not at rest, for I am greatly afflicted by this present suffering.

Beloved Father, what shall I say? I am straitened in harsh ways. Save me from this hour to which, however, I am come that You may be glorified when I am deeply humbled and freed by You. May it please You, then, to deliver me, Lord, for what can I, poor wretch that I am, do or where can I go without You? Give me patience, Lord, even now. Help me, my God, and I will not be afraid however much I may be distressed.

But here, in the midst of these troubles, what shall I say? Your will be done, Lord. I have richly deserved to be troubled and distressed. But I must bear it. Would that I could do so patiently, until the storm passes and calm returns! Yet Your almighty hand can take this temptation from me, or lighten its attack so that I do not altogether sink beneath it, as You, my God, my Mercy, have very often done for me before. And the more difficult my plight, the easier for You is this change of the right hand of the Most High. [III.29]

There is often a greater good to be found in suffering, but we so readily shudder at the thought and try to avoid it at all costs. That’s not to say that we should go looking for trouble, but rather that when it comes, we must fly to God that He may help us and turn it to our good.

“Give me patience, Lord, even now. Help me, my God, and I will not be afraid however much I may be distressed.”

Amen.

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Posted in Books, Charity, Faith, Hope, Imitation of Christ, Suffering

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