From The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
The wise lover of God regards not so much the gifts of Him who loves, as the love of Him who gives the gifts. We should esteem the affection of the Giver more than the value of the gift, and love God more than all His gifts. The child of God should not take comfort and security in the gift, but in the One who is above every gift.
“I will speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). This verse shows me to myself– what I am, what I have been, and what I am coming to. I am nothing, but I did not know it. Left to myself, I am nothing, and altogether weak. But when God looks upon me, I am at once made strong and filled with new joy. May you be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any benefits, yet your infinite goodness never ceases to do good, even for those who are ungrateful and far from you. Turn us to you, that we may be thankful, humble, and devout, for you are our salvation, our courage, and our strength. “How great, O Lord, is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear You, which you bestow on those who take refuge in you” (Psalm 31:19). You have shown your love to me, O Lord, especially in having made me when I did not exist, in having brought me back to serve you when I had gone far astray from you, and in having commanded me to love you. How can I forget you who will remember me even after I have wasted away and perished?
The Voice of Christ: My wish is not that you seek that peace which is free from temptations or meets with no opposition, but rather that you can be at peace even when you have been tormented with many tribulations and tried with many adversities. Do you think that other people in the world have no suffering, or only a little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and you will learn otherwise. ‘But,’ you will say, ‘they enjoy many pleasures and follow their own wishes; therefore they do not feel their troubles very much.’ Granted, they may seem to have whatever they wish, but how long do you think it will last? Behold, they who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke, and there shall be no memory of their past joys. And even in this life they do not find rest in these pleasures without bitterness, weariness, and fear. For they often receive the penalty of sorrow in the very thing from which they believe their happiness comes. Oh, how brief, how false, how unreasonable are all these pleasures. Yet, in their blindness men do not understand this, but they incur the death of their souls for the miserly enjoyment of a brief and corruptible life.
Commit all things to God, saying: “Lord, you know what is best for me; let all be done as you please. Grant what you will, as much as you will, when you will. Do with me as you know best, as will most please you, and will be for your greater honor. Place me where you will and deal with me freely in all things. I am in your hand; turn me about whichever way you will. Behold, I am your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for you.”
The Voice of Christ: My child, do not be curious, troubling yourself with idle cares. Follow Me. What is it to you if someone you know is a ‘such and such,’ if another does or says ‘this or that?’ You will not have to answer for others, but you will have to give an account of yourself. Why, then, do you want to meddle in their affairs? Behold, I know all people. I see everything that is done under the sun, and I know how matters stand with each; what is in each mind and what is in each heart, and the ends to which each intention is directed. Commit all things to me, therefore, and keep yourself in good peace.
Matthew 5:45 — (Jesus said), “Your Father in heaven… causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Psalm 116:12 — How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?
Job 7:1a — Does not man have hard service on earth?
James 1:2-3 — Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 4:13-15 — Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Psalm 4:8 — I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Grant me your grace, O merciful Jesus, and grant that your grace may be with me and work within me with me to the very end. Grant that I may always desire that which is most acceptable and pleasing to you. Let your will be mine, and let my will always follow yours. Give me above all my desires the desire to rest in you, and in you, let my heart have peace. You alone can give me such peace and rest. Without you, all things are difficult and troubled. But in the peace that is in you, my Lord, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.
–Thomas a Kempis