Link back to index.html
See Suffering as being Allowed by the Lord
All the passages below are taken from Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach’s book “Practicing His Presence.” This book is a combination of three books. The first section is taken from excerpts of letters written at Dansalan, Lake Lanao, Philippine Islands by Frank Laubach to his father, 1930 through 1932, entitled Letters by a Modern Mystic. The second is from The Game With Minutes, also by Frank Laubach. The third is a modern rewrite of a book by Brother Lawrence, first printed in French in 1692, entitled The Practice of the Presence of God.
The passages below are by Brother Lawrence. At the age of 55 he entered the Carmelites Community as a "Lay Brother." He was born in France in 1611 and died at the age of eighty in 1691.
Friend Suffering, Friend Pain [87-89]
Suffering is always painful, either to your body or to your soul. Yet though I know you are suffering, I am not praying that you will be delivered from your pain. Nonetheless, I do pray. I earnestly ask God to give you strength and patience to bear your pain as long as it pleases Him.
God has fastened you to a cross. Now, can you do this? Find your comfort in the very One who holds you fastened to that cross. He will loose you when He sees fit. Seek the Lord as your strength, the strength to endure as much and as long as He has measured out for you. Happy are those who suffer with Him.
Men who are in the world cannot understand this truth. That is no wonder. They do not suffer as Christians. They are in a different world from Christians; therefore, they consider sickness as something gone wrong in nature, and not as a favor from God. In looking at pain from their view, there is nothing in it but grief and distress. But if we consider sickness to be a gift from the hand of God, an expression of His mercy and an instrument which He uses to bring us to complete salvation, then suffering is something very sweet. It is reasonable and even comforting. God, in some sense, is even nearer to you when you are sick.
. . . .
It has been my observation that even the medicine we take succeeds only as far as the Lord permits. When the pain comes from God, then God alone can take the pain away. The Lord often sends diseases to the body in order to cure the disease of the soul.
Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician, who is the healer of both body and soul.
Dear friend, be content with the condition God has put you in. However happy you may think me, I envy you. Pains and suffering would be a paradise to me as long as the Lord was with me; and the greatest pleasures of this earth would be hell to me if I had to taste them without Him.
All the comfort I need can be found in the privilege of suffering just because it is His desire that I suffer.
In a little time, I will go to God. What comforts me in this life is that I now see my Lord by faith. In seeing Him by faith I actually see so well I sometimes say, "I believe no more! I see!"
I can feel that which faith teaches; I can sense what faith sees. This of course, works great assurance in me. In that assurance and in that practice of faith, I will live and die with Him.
So continue always with God. To be with Him is really your only support and your only comfort during affliction.
I shall beseech my Lord to be with you.
His Numberless Ways [91-92]
If we were all completely accustomed to being constantly in the presence of Christ, all our disease would be much alleviated by that presence. The Lord does very often allow us to suffer a little.# He does so for two reasons: to purify the soul and to oblige us to continue in His presence (or, if it is our need, to turn us---through suffering---back into His presence).
What shall you do in your present straits? Constantly, incessantly offer your pains to the Lord. Ask Him for strength to endure the pain. But above all else, get into the habit of entertaining yourself with God. Forget Him the very least you can.
During your pain, just adore Him. From time to time offer yourself to Him. In the very height of your suffering just beseech Him, very humbly and very affectionately---let me repeat, affectionately---that He will conform you to His will.
I shall be what aid I can to you with my prayers.
God seems to have endless ways of drawing us to Himself. Perhaps His most unusual way is to hide Himself from you. What can we do when we can no longer find the Lord? The key is found in the word faith. Faith is the one thing, perhaps the only thing, which will not fail you in such a time. Let faith be your support. The very foundation of your confidence must be your faith. At a time like that, when God seems to have forsaken you, you must exercise your faith in Him.
You ask about me. I am always happy. The whole world suffers, and here am I, the one person who deserves the severest discipline, feeling joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them!
I would willingly ask God for a part of your suffering, yet I know that I am so weak that if the Lord left me one moment to myself I would be the most wretched man alive. But, I cannot even consider that He could ever leave me alone. You see, faith gives me just as strong a conviction as the senses ever could that He never forsakes us.
Yes, I sense His presence continually. But if I should lose that sense, my faith that He is with me would be as strong as the sense had been.
Have but one fear: fear to leave Him. Be always with Him. Let us live in His presence. Let us die in His presence.
# Two of the most traumatic experiences a Christian can have are (1) long periods of intense pain and suffering and (2) the loss of the presence of God. Brother Lawrence touches both of these depths in this letter.
Response to Pain [93-94]
I am in pain to see you suffer so long. What gives me some ease is that your suffering is proof of God's love for you. When you really see your suffering from that view, you can bear your pains more easily.
As I said before, it is my own feeling you should . . . resign yourself entirely to the sovereignty and the providence of God.
Perhaps He is waiting just for that resignation and trust in Him. Consider my words. After all, despite your anxiety and your efforts to get well, the medical world has been completely unsuccessful in helping you; instead the disease has increased. Would it be so difficult to abandon yourself into His hands and expect all from Him?
In my last letter I said to you that the Lord sometimes permits diseases of the body so that problems within the soul can be cured. Have courage; take this limitation and turn it to opportunity.
Come to the Lord, ask Him not to deliver you from your pain, but ask Him for strength to bear this thing. Ask Him to give you a deep, strong love for Him. Ask Him to give you everything that would please Him. Ask Him to give you what He will and to do with you what He wishes, as long as He pleases.
A prayer like that is a little difficult to pray. Such a prayer is against the nature of the soul, but it is one very acceptable to God. It is a sweet prayer of resignation to those who love the Lord. Love sweetens pains. And when a Christian loves God, he can suffer for His sake, joyfully and courageously.
I beseech you to do just that. Comfort yourself with the Lord. He is the only Physician who can meet all our needs. The Lord Jesus is the Comforter of the ill, the Father of the afflicted. He is always ready to help you; but His help comes according to the way He desires and not the way you desire.
He loves you. He loves you infinitely more than you can imagine. So what should you do? Love Him. Then, seek to obtain your comfort from Him and Him alone.
I trust you will be able to receive these words. Adieu.
I will help you with my prayers even though they are very poor, and I shall always be yours in the Lord.
Au Revoir February 6, 1691 [105-106]
The Lord knows best what is needful for us. What He does, He does for our good. If we really knew just how much He loves us, we would always be willing to receive anything from His hand. We would receive the bitter or the sweet without distinction.
Anything, yes everything, would please us just because it came from Him.
The worst possible afflictions and suffering appear intolerable only when seen in the wrong light. When we see such things as dispensed by the hand of God, when we know that it is our own loving Father who abases us and distresses us, then our sufferings lose their bitterness. Our mourning becomes all joy.
Let all your employment be to know God. The more you actually know Him the more you will desire to know Him. Since knowledge is a measurement of love, the deeper and more intimate you are with Him, the greater will be your love for Him. And if our love for the Lord is great, then we will love Him as much during grief as in joy.
I am sure you know that most people's love for the Lord stops at a very shallow stage. Most love God for the tangible things He gives them. They love Him because of His favor to them. You must not stop on such a level, no matter how rich His mercies have been to you. Many outward blessings can never bring you as close to God as can one simple act of faith.
So seek Him often by faith.
Oh, dear friend, the Lord is not outside of you, pouring down favors. The Lord is within you. Seek Him there, within ... and no where else.
Let the Lord be the one, the only, love of your life. If we do love Him alone, are we not rude if we busy ourselves with trifles, trifles which do not please Him and some which may even offend Him? Be wise and fear such trifles. They will one day cost us dearly.
Dear friend, would you now begin, today, to be devoted to the Lord, in earnest? Cast everything else out of your heart. He would possess it alone. Beg of Him that favor.
Do what you can, and soon you will see that change wrought in you which you are seeking.
I cannot thank Him enough for the relief He has given you.
I hope, by His mercy, for the privilege of seeing Him face to face within a few days.
Let us pray for one another.
Brother Lawrence was confined to bed two days after writing this last letter, and died the same week. Surely he recognized his Lord very quickly, for while he had been bound by his earthly body his eyes of faith rarely looked anywhere but upon the Lord.
Link back to index.html