The right kind of sympathy

Matthew 26.38 Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

“Mary Mozley of Central Africa wrote in a letter: “Somebody suggested this thought to me, and it came home to me the other day in reading about Christ in Gethsemane–that the way to show true sympathy is not to pity, but to stand by and strengthen the sufferer to do God’s will.  And in Gethsemane, when Christ turned to the three for sympathy, it was with the words, ‘Watch with Me.’ ‘Stand by Me.’  He asked for no pity, but for the strengthening which might seem a feeble help, just that they might let their presence and prayer tell there for Him, to strengthen Him to do the will of God.”

“The Lord help each one of us to ‘stand by’ one another with just this kind of bracing sympathy.”

(Amy Carmichael)

“Happy? In this valley of tears?”



One of the speakers at a conference I recently attended was Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, the current chair of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States.  She is a delightful and inspiring speaker, and I thought I would treat you to a sampling of her ability to inspire and encourage.  Go here for a ten minute clip of a talk she gave a couple of years ago: “Happy?  In This Valley of Tears?”

Make Christ your hero

A beautiful and encouraging piece from Gerard Manley Hopkins:

[Christ] is the true-love and the bridegroom of men’s souls: the virgins follow him whithersoever he goes, the martyrs follow him through a sea of blood, through great tribulation; all his servants take up their cross and follow him.  And those even that do not follow him, yet they look wistfully after him, own him a hero, and wish they dared answer to his call.  Children as soon as they can understand ought to be told about him, that they may make him the hero of their young hearts . . .

From all that might be said of Christ’s character I single out one point and beg you to notice that.  He loved to praise, he loved to reward.  He knew what was in man, he best knew men’s faults and yet he was the warmest in their praise.  When he worked a miracle he would grace it with “Thy faith hath saved thee,” that it might almost seem the receiver’s work, not his.  He said of Nathaniel that he was an Israelite without guile; he that searches hearts said this, and yet what praise that was to give!  He called the two sons of Zebedee Sons of Thunder, kind and stately and honorable name!  We read of nothing thunderlike that they did except, what was sinful, to wish fire down from heaven on some sinners but they deserved the name or he would not have given it, and he has given it them for all time.  Of John the Baptist he said that his greater was not born of women.  He said to Peter, “Thou art Rock,” and rewarded a moment’s acknowledgement of him with the lasting headship of his Church.  He defended Magdalen and took means that the story of her generosity should be told for ever.  And though he bids us say we are unprofitable servants, yet he himself will say to each of us “Good and faithful servant, well done.”

And this man whose picture I have tried to draw for you, brethren, is your God.  He was your maker in time past; hereafter he will be your judge.  Make him your hero now.

What can man do to me?

Ps 118.6: The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Job 34.29: When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?

The Lord is for me (margin).  What can man do to me?  Nothing.  Nothing that really matters.  Nothing that can do any harm.  Nothing that will not be turned to golden good.

Sometimes we feel as though man could do a great deal. A perverse child can cloud a whole day.  The sight of deadly sin, injustice and suffering can overwhelm us.  And deeper things, the inward assaults of the never-resting foe (though he is not man but stronger than man) can seem to do appalling things.

But still the word stands, the question that can have only one answer.  The Lord is for me.  What can man do to me?  Nothing.

And to another questions there is only one answer.  When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?  No one.

However things seem, the answers to those two questions are among the things that cannot be shaken.

~Amy Carmichael

Let not your heart be troubled

Is your heart troubled by some way that you have failed the Lord?  Amy Carmichael shows us the truth about how the Lord looks upon our failings:

John 13.38:  Jesus answered him, . . . The cock shall not crow until you have denied Me three times.

John 14.1: Let not your heart be troubled.

“After speaking of Peter’s fall, which He foresaw, our dear Lord immediately says, Let not your heart be troubled.  He saw across that day of grief to the restoration that would follow.  His eyes were not fixed on the sad interruption to fellowship and joy, but on the hour when Peter would be back in love again, never again to grieve his Lord like that.  And so to the surprised and surely greatly troubled little company He said, Let not your heart be troubled.

“Most of us have things which would naturally greatly trouble us.  Let us face these things as our Lord Jesus did in John 13.38 and then go straight on into chapter 14.1.”

Infinite calm

I love to know and read people who really know the essence of life.  They feed my soul.  Dom Augustin Guillerand is one of these.  His words are worth chewing on:

“This is the secret of peace, after committing a fault.  What is past is past.  And if we accept the consequences, while bracing our will, we can be sure that God will know how to draw glory even from our faults.  Not to be downcast after committing a fault is one of the marks of true sanctity, for the saint knows how to find God in everything, in spite of human appearances.  Once your will is sincerely “good,’ then don’t worry . . .

“In all that we do, and at every moment, God has ordained an exact balance between what we have to do and the necessary strength to do it; and this we call grace.  Our part is to bring ourselves into line with grace.

“God uses all the horrors of this world for an infinitely perfect end, and always with an infinite calm.  It is part of his plan that we should feel the blows and experience the wounds of life; but more than anything else he wants us to dominate them by virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and so live on his level.  It is these latter which will raise us up to him, and then we shall share in his calm, and in the highest part of our being.”   (Dom Augustin Guillerand, O.Cart.)

A kind twist

It’s time for Amy Carmichael:

“Sir Robert Ball, the astronomer, began when he was old to write the story of his life.  He made this rule for himself: ‘Try to give everything narrated a kind twist.'”

How would our lives look to us if we practiced doing that?

She goes on to say:

“Isn’t that such a beautiful rule?  Let us ask the Spirit of God to search us about this matter of giving a ‘kind twist’ to what others say and do.”

Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.