Friday, May 1, 2009

"Affliction is a Treasure"

In the same paragraph as his famous line, "No man is an island, entire of itself," John Dunne wrote a startling truth not nearly as popular in our hedonistic, narcissistic society as those first few words.

The context is Dunne, lying in bed with what he thinks is the bubonic plague, thinking he's going to die and questioning God as to why this had befallen him so soon after accepting the very prestigious position of dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and thus able to do so much more for God. Why, God? he asks. When he hears the church bells announcing another death in the community, he thinks they are for him. They're for his neighbour instead, but suddenly he has a revelation: The man's death is as much a part of Dunne as of the man himself because we are all connected. When one suffers, we all suffer--something Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 12:26, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it." (NIV) Dunne goes on to talk about how this idea is not asking for or begging for misery and yet...
...it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.*
Affliction, suffering, misery a treasure? Not a popular concept and yet so very true--if we allow it and embrace it, if we choose to seek God in the midst of it.

What has your attitude been toward affliction?


*as quoted in Connecting with God: A Spiritual Formation Guide by Renovaré

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