To believe Christ’s cross to be a friend, as he himself is a friend, is also a special act of faith.
When you are in the furnace, your Father keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows just how much we can take.
How many have suffered and still suffer because their hearts were not firm in their good inclinations, because they imprudently looked with impure eyes, because they heard with ears unaccustomed to discern between good and evil, because they tasted greedily! The senses of the sin-loving, greedy flesh, unrestrained by reason and by God’s commandments, have drawn them into various worldly passions, have darkened their minds and hearts, deprived them of peace of heart, and taken away their free-will, making them the slaves of these senses. Thus you see how necessary it is to look, listen, taste, smell, and feel prudently; or, rather, how necessary it is to guard your heart so that through your outward senses, as through a window, no sin may steal in, and that the author himself of sin – the Devil – may not darken and wound that heavenly fledgling, our soul, with his poisonous and deathly arrows.
As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.
When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.
Our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than out of fear – love for him that has shown us such grace that no greater can be found.
The highest joy to the Christian almost always comes through suffering, No flower can bloom in Paradise which is not transplanted from Gethsemane. No one can taste of the fruit of the tree of life, that has not tasted of the fruits of the tree of Calvary. The crown is after the cross.
But how to be present to another? Our hearts are so hard. We are so insensitive to the suffering of others. We must pray the Holy Spirit to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh so that we may give life, for love is giving of life and liberty. By our confidence in another we can bring forth new aspirations and a taste for life in him. We can help the miserable person to live, to progress and to grow. And he will only begin to want to live when he has been told by our gestures, words, the tone of our voice, our look, our whole being that it is important that he live.
God can do wonders with a broken heart if you give him all the pieces.
It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne that does us good.