SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

GOD’S CROSSES ARE EASIER THAN SELF-CHOSEN CROSSES

Here are some words that we all need to contemplate. The crosses we make for ourselves by unnecessary anxiousness about the future are not heaven-sent crosses. We tempt God by our faulty wisdom, seeking to anticipate His arrangements, and struggle to supplement His providence with our provisions. The fruit of our understanding is always bitter. God allows it to be so that we may be frustrated when we forsake His fatherly guidance. The future is not ours. We may never have anything for which to hope. Or, if it comes, it may be entirely different from all we expected. Let us not shut our eyes to what God has for us in the hidden depths of His wisdom. Let us worship without seeing. Let us be silent and be still.[1]

The crosses God lays upon us always bring their special grace and consequent comfort with them. We see the hand of God when the cross rests upon us. But the crosses brought about by anxious worries are beyond what God intended. Instead, we meet them without the special grace adapted to the need of a faithless spirit, which renders grace impossible. And so, everything seems complicated and unbearable. All seems dark and helpless, and the soul that indulges in curiously tasting of forbidden fruit finds nothing but hopeless rebellion and spiritual death.

All this comes from not trusting God, from ignoring the wisdom in His hidden ways. “Tomorrow will worry about itself,”[2] our Lord has said, and the worry and trouble of each day become good if we leave them to God. Who are we to ask Him, “Why are You doing this?” It’s the Lord’s doing, and that is enough. Let Him do what seems good to Him. So, let Him wound, then do the healing. Let Him discipline, and provide comforting. Let Him give life or decide when to call us to our rest: He is Lord! We are His work. Let us remove anything that would slow us down from our lives, [3] and then God’s will, unfolding hour by hour, will satisfy us as to all He does in or around us. Human conflicts, their inconstancy, their very injustice will be realized as the result of God’s wisdom, justice, and unfailing goodness. Then, we will see nothing but that infinitely good God, hidden behind the weakness of blind, sinful humanity.

The most outstanding people are nothing themselves, but God is great in them. He uses their changing ways, pride, pretensions, vanity, and other wild passions to reveal His eternal purposes for His elect. He turns everything within and without, the sins of others and our failings, to our sanctification. God designed everything in heaven and earth to purify and make us worthy of Him, So let us be glad when our heavenly Father puts us to the test with various inward and outward testing.[4] When He surrounds us with external adversities and internal sorrows, let us rejoice, for, in this way, our faith is tried as gold in the fire.[5] It is this crucial experience that snatches us from ourselves and the world. Let us rejoice, for the new self is born in us by such painful work.

In the trials of life, we learn the hollowness and falseness of all that is not God: Emptiness because there is nothing real where not one speck of good is present. And falseness because the world promises and kindles hopes, but gives nothing but emptiness sorrow hearts.

We see that not facing reality rules everywhere. It excites desires and kindles hope but can never fill the heart. That which is itself empty cannot fill another. The weak, wretched idols of earth cannot impart strength or happiness that they do not possess themselves. Do people seek to draw water from a dry well? Surely not. Then why should they look for peace and joy from famous or great people who themselves cannot find contentment while consumed with inward weariness amid their outward display? ‘‘Those who make them will be like them.”[6] So, let us fix our hopes higher, further from the casualties of this life.

All that is not God is vanity and falsehood, [7] and consequently, we find both of these in ourselves. What is so vain as hopelessness in our hearts? What delusions are there that we don’t use to deceive ourselves? Happy is the person who is not deceived. However, our heart is as vain and false as those in the world. Therefore, we must not despise deception without hating ourselves. We are even worse than the world because we have received more incredible things from God. Therefore, let us endure patiently if the world fails or misuses us. Since we have so often forgotten or misused God, grieving His Spirit of grace. The more the world disgusts us, the more it is furthering God’s work, and while seeking to harm us, it will help us.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”[8] So, cut off every root of bitterness, and cast aside whatever disturbs the simple peace and trust of a child of God. Turn to your Heavenly Father in every care; bury yourself in that tender heart, where nothing can fail you. Rejoice in hope, and casting aside the world and the flesh, taste the pure joys of the Holy Spirit.[9]

May your faith be unmoved during every storm. Always remember the words of the Apostle Paul, but in reverse order, “To those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, all things work together for their good.”[10] [11]

Archbishop François Fénelon

 (1651-1725)


[1] Habakkuk 2:20

[2] Matthew 6:34

[3] Hebrews 12:1

[4] James 1:2ff

[5] Ecclesiastes 2:5; cf. Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:7

[6] See John 20-24-29

[7] Ecclesiastes 6:2

[8] Philippians 4:7

[9] Romans 12:12

[10] Ibid. 8:28

[11] Fénelon, François: Paraclete Giants, The Complete Fénelon, Translated and Edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2008, pp. 48-51; Vocabulary and grammar redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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