"Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving, but know that it is the bounty of God, not thy merit. Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume, but rather be the more humble for this gift and the more cautious and fearful in all thine actions; for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow. When comfort shall be taken away from thee, do not presently despair; but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit, for God is able to restore thee a greater consolation. This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God: for the great saints and ancient prophets have often felt this kind of variety."— Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, p. 64
Sunday, October 15, 2017
"The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this, that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them. They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God, giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves. ... It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God, because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all, in rendering to God the things that are God's; that is, in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is, all the good that he has and for all the good that he does; as the Venerable Bede says: 'Whatever good we see in ourselves, let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.' To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility, because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of every good. And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God. St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times: 'In all things give thanks.' (1 Thess. 5:18). 'Giving thanks always for all things.' (Eph. 5:20). But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes to us through the infinite mercy of God."— Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, Humility of Heart, p. 87-8
Sunday, October 8, 2017
I am reflecting on the Goodness of God. I am realizing that our current thinking or at least the thinking in evangelical Christian circles is very shallow. When I hear modern Christians talk about the goodness of God it is in very pragmatic ways. It sounds like this - "God is good. God has blessed me with...." The saints of old would find this a very strange perspective. For these saints to speak of the goodness of God is to speak of God's very essence or nature. They do not speak of God's goodness, rather, they speak of the goodness of God. The difference is significant. You can talk about a hurricane's power or the power of a hurricane; the former speaks to the effect or result of the hurricane; the latter speaks to the very nature of a hurricane which is power.
When we experience suffering, we need perspective which speaks of the goodness of God not God's goodness. If we do the latter we search for some meaning in the suffering - a search which may not be ever satisfied. If we move from the perspective of the goodness of God, our suffering becomes revelatory, that is , we can begin to examine where God is to be seen in our suffering. The goodness of God is the ground of our lives including our suffering. - Ronald Friesen (c) 2017