The mystics talk a lot about suffering and when they do it’s in a uniquely positive way. In letters to friends Brother Lawrence tells his reader to rejoice in their suffering because of how it will grow them, he even goes as far as to say, ‘such suffering is proof of God’s love for them’. Most of these contemplatives I’ve been reading have a level of surrender to God that you don’t find in other Christian literature. This surrender I believe can only be made possible by an acceptance of suffering of any kind if that may be God’s choice for them. Whether or not one believes God intervenes in such a manner is an aside to the fact that these Christians find the blessing of such pain to be worth the cost in rewards. In sensationalist churches today the epitome of God’s presence and goodness is revealed in a miraculous healing. I think the mystics would say otherwise, that the greatest revelation of God is His presence in our suffering and the person that the pain ultimately makes.
I have made an effort to pray these prayers the mystics pray but I cannot get them out in words, much less with any form of authenticity. I go to pray such things and my mind clenches down around the words to keep them from forming as images of worst-case scenario run through my head and all I can think is, please don’t take them from me. I guess I don’t want to be good that bad. It’s terrifying to think of what God might to do me in order to make me Holy. I initially thought this fear was an issue of trust with God when I think it has more to do with a misaligning of priorities; namely my happiness over God’s glory.
I imagine that’s one of the perks, if you can call it that, of letting everything go in pursuit of the monastic life. It is a complete ripping of one’s heart from the pleasures of this life for a painful but more immediate release from desire. Those of us who choose otherwise get to enjoy much more while we spend the rest of our existence trying to coax our hearts away from the vain pursuit of happiness and towards a pursuit of God.
I look back on this past year and the struggles I have endured and can see with clarity what it has done to me. I am much more aware of how little control I actually have and thus more surrendered to what may be. I have found a serenity and a desire for God fueled by my very present and nagging need for Him. Would I choose if I could such pain for the sake of my change? I cannot say. Could I ever come to a place where I might genuinely ask God to do what He may for the bettering of my character and thus His glory? Not today, but maybe by the grace of God tomorrow.