A Look Back to 1918–Purified as by Fire

There are few of us who have not learned by experience the remedial value of suffering when we have used it as a sacrament. It is astonishing how evanescent the memory of pain is, both in its acute and in its more prolonged forms, and how living a thing is the deposit made by a right correspondence with the opportunity hidden in the heart of suffering. This latter softens the disposition of that which at the moment seemed like unrelieved disaster and, as we look back, gives a benign expression to its severe countenance. To the growing character all his past suffering is a distinct asset, and from none of it would he be separated. He would not, if he could, eliminate a single pang.

The memory of past suffering and its deposit is varied. First and highest stands the vicarious suffering by which we lived in the lives of others and, without fault ourselves, shared the shame and sorrow of others, or else entered into the rich experience of blameless sufferers. Perhaps there is no pain quite like it for intensity. Then there comes the sharing of the common lot in which we receive our due portion of harsh treatment at the rough hand of those relentless forces which are resident in the nature of which we are a part. Some, many, there are who appear to be afflicted beyond measure and without apparent reason. The disparity of suffering is one of the most baffling features of the mystery and would be a fatal one were it not that the most perfect, the one altogether perfect, representative of the human family was afflicted beyond His brethren of every age, and not only took no hurt but even reaped a golden harvest for the world from the field of His suffering. With His stripes we are healed.

And then there are the pangs which we can trace directly to our own fault, and which are nothing more or less than the chastising of the benignly austere hand of God….

The Mount of Vision: Being a Study of Life in Terms of the Whole, Chapter 8, by Bishop Charles Henry Brent


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