Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
– 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, 12
We, unfortunately with our false self-system, have developed a world of our own, which is not the real one… We’ve got everything upside down. We think we’re here and that God is someplace else especially if faith is a little weak and needs to rely upon human props to keep it going… In a case of tragedy when circumstances challenge the depth of our faith or its sincerity, that then some people fall apart, and they start saying: ‘Why does God treat me in this way?’ And the great problem that plagues all believers of whatever religion begins to arise: namely, if God is sovereign over all things, if he’s all powerful and if I’m trying to serve him every day as best I can… ‘Why?’ And the… language gets more intense: ‘Why the hell doesn’t he help me out? What kind of a God is this? Maybe I could do better with some other God, or I’ll stop going to church now since when I pray, God doesn’t answer. It’s a waste of time.’
…So, we have to live contentedly on the other side of vision, and this is the side of faith that sees through a glass, as Paul puts it, in a dark manner. But that doesn’t mean that God is not there.
… Now we need a new relationship with God or to modify our attitudes towards this new depth, not of punishment…but of love. In God’s relationship with us, there is no such thing as punishment. God is love.
…God is inviting us always into ever more sophisticated, sublime – glorious even – participation in the ultimate divine plan for humanity, which is the transformation of the whole human family, past, present and to come, into the fullness of the divine light, love and life. And so, what we interpret as disasters are, in actual fact, the mercy of God confronting us in a way that is necessary because of our density of mind, at the depth of our attachments to our own way of wanting God to help us or to even dictate to God how he’s supposed to treat us. And this is not pure love.
…Jesus’ teaching is that the Kingdom of God, that is to say, the consciousness of Christ, of God’s pervasive presence in everything that happens is…the secret transformation that is going along.
…When you don’t know where you’re going; when you have no proof that you’re on the right road; when you’re totally confused; when everybody rejects you; when you’re persecuted; when everybody speaks ill of you; rejoice, he says because this is the gift of divine wisdom that opens our eyes to the fact that God’s kingdom is most accessible at times in the most unexpected, difficult, and unacceptable situations.
-Thomas Keating, from the Session 81 video
In this session’s video which was recorded in the context of the dying process the words are also true in the ordinary moments of life which are confronting, baffling, painful, and seemingly unwarranted. Fr. Thomas gently reminds us that everything depends on attitude – our attitude. When there is trust, then suffering is not just suffering any more. It’s suffering that leads to wisdom. And wisdom is the perception of the divine goodness and purpose in everything that happens.
- View the video excerpt “Suffering” from the DVD series: The Gift of Life: Death & Dying, Life & Living which is about 9 minutes in length.
- Take in: Love never fails. How have you been called to trust this?