Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.
The body they may kill, God's truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever. Martin Luther
"It is always the case that the greater the joy, the greater is the pain which precedes it."
Augustine hit an important point. I think that's also a reason why there's suffering...to help us appreciate true, lasting joy.
I would say too that some of the most winsome, attractive (attractive in the sense of being drawn to someone because Christ so radiantly shines thru them), and contageous (for lack of better words) christians I have encountered (either thru books read or personal interactions) are people who have, at some point, suffered greatly. I find that I want to be like them, but in my self-love/preservation I'm not so sure I want to go thru what they went thru to get there. I think there is something about suffering that brings you to a place of not just believing or saying that God is this or that, but to a place of actually knowing. Not that suffering is the only means that leads us to that intersection, but when it is the means, I imagine that the element of knowing and experiencing Him because of and thru the suffering is what results in that greater joy--a joy that can't be manufactured or experienced another way because what we were previously looking to for joy has been stripped from us. And as our counterfeit joys are revealed and/or stripped away, we are left, if willing, the opportunity to walk thru a doorway to a better Joy; an infinite one that is only found in being emptied of ourselves and having none to cling to but Him. Also, I would suppose, it is when we are brought so low in our suffering that the cracks in these earthen vessels in which we inhabit are all the more gaping--not only to create more room for the True joy to dwell, but for it to flow thru us to others.
Do you agree with that?
lance - thanks for the comment. I agree with you.LT - wow. good thoughts. yeah, I totally agree that Christ shines more fully through those who have experienced more brokenness, and it is attractive.caughtnottaught - I do agree with what Augustine said. I've experienced it in my own life and have seen it as I read about great men of faith.
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ps. thanks David...sorry for the novel. i'm slowly getting addicted to blogging...and can be a little long-winded. :)