Lent Reflection day 33
As Unseen Warfare has described the process of following after God so far, it has told us to act on the good we perceive in our hearts, and seek after a spiritual guide. The thirty-third chapter deals with impatience, which is a pit that many fall into. We become like children who walk into an amusement park and want to ride every ride at once. This is how, as the title of the chapter says, the enemy diverts us from our righteous deeds and spoils them. The book uses the example of someone who is sick and refuses to wait until he’s better before trying to return to his life. The devil, Unseen Warfare says, begins to remind him of the many good deeds he could have performed had his position been different, and tries to convince him that, had he been in good health, he would have achieved much in the service of God, bringing much profit to himself and others. He would have been able to go to church, to talk to people, to read and to write for the instruction of his brethren, and so on.
I myself experienced this when I was in the hospital for a health problem. I was continually under the impression that my time was being wasted, and that I needed to leave as quickly as possible. I even, when I was feverish, got up and started to leave, and was only held back by the IVs attached to my arms. But I continued to be very insistent, and eventually the physicians let me go home. But it was too soon, and I ended up having to return, twice.
That was an experience in the physical realm, but it also happens to us spiritually. We feel ourselves progressing in the spiritual life, and we can see ahead the good things God has in store for us. Why wait? the devil says, and soon we find that we’ve ruined even the good things we thought we already had achieved.
Unseen Warfare suggests: The one who has experienced teachers and advisers to talk with and who obeys their instructions with humble submission is easily delivered from all such temptations. But if for some reason one is deprived of this blessing, let him keep attention in himself and learn to discriminate strictly between good and evil according to Christian principles, on which the lives of us all should be based. If circumstances which seem to us to impede our freedom in doing good are not the result of our will, but are sent by God, accept them submissively and listen to no suggestions which make you depart from this submissiveness. When God sends such circumstances, He expects nothing more from you than that you should conduct yourself and act as the occasion demands, within the possibilities it offers. Whether you are sick or poor, endure it. God demands of you nothing but to endure. Enduring with a good heart, you will be constantly occupied in good. If you endure with a good heart, then, whenever God may look at you, He will find you either acting or existing rightly, whereas if a one enjoys good health his good actions are intermittent. So if you wish for a change in your position, you wish to exchange hotter for worse.
The advice for this chapter is summed up in these words: and remain at peace. That’s a good motto for us as we complete the fast and take stock of the good spiritual benefits we’ve accrued.
Here we’ve come to the thirty-third day of the Lenten journey, brothers and sisters. Let us remain at peace and continue to gather the harvest of righteous works with patience.