794) The Imitation of Christ (h)

From The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis  (1380-1471)

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     The voice of Christ:  “Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, nor let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Believe in me and trust in my mercy.  When you think you are far from me, then often I am the nearest.  When you judge that almost all is lost, then oftentimes the greater gain is close at hand.  All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes.  You ought not judge according to present feelings.  Do not consider yourself forsaken if I send some temporary hardship, or for a time withdraw some desired comfort.  For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and it is better for you to be tried in adversities than to have all things as you wish.  I know your secret thoughts, and I know that it is profitable for your salvation to be left sometimes in despondency, lest perhaps you be puffed up by success and fancy yourself to be something you are not.  What I have given, I can take away, and then I can restore it when it pleases me.  What I give remains mine, and thus when I take it away I take nothing that is yours, for every good gift and every perfect gift is mine (James 1:17).  If I send you trouble and adversity of any kind, do not fret or let your heart be downcast.  I can raise you quickly up again and turn all your sorrow into joy.

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  Of what use is anxiety about the future?  Does it bring you anything but trouble upon trouble?  “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).  It is foolish and useless to be either grieved or happy about future things, which perhaps may never happen.  But it is human to be deluded by such imaginations; and it is the sign of a weak soul to be so easily drawn away by the suggestions of the enemy.  For the devil does not care whether it is by things true or false that he delude and deceive, nor whether he overcomes you by love of the present or by fear of the future. 

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     It is a great obstacle to be satisfied with external things, and to have so little concern for one’s eternal soul.  I know not what it is, or by what spirit we are led, or to what we pretend, that we spend so much labor and anxiety on things that are transitory and trifling, while we seldom or never give full attention to our spiritual concerns. 

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Do not covet what you may not have.  If you seek this or that, if you wish to be in this place or that place, to have more ease and pleasure, you will never be at rest, nor free from anxiety; for in everything there is some defect, and in every place there will be someone to vex you.

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John 16:33  —  (Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart, for I have overcome the world.”

Ephesians 3:16  —  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Matthew 6:33-34  —  (Jesus said), “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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   Keep me, most merciful God, from the cares of this life, lest I be too much entangled in them.  Keep me from many wrongful desires, lest I be ensnared by pleasure.  Keep me from all darkness of mind, lest I be broken by troubles and overcome.  Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me, nor the devil trip me by his craftiness.  Give me courage to resist, patience to endure, and strength to persevere.  Give me the soothing comfort of your spirit rather than all the consolations of the world.  Grant me the grace to use such worldly comforts moderately and not to become entangled in too great a desire for them.  In these matters, let your hand guide and direct me.  Amen.

–Thomas a Kempis
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