The Twelfth Chapter: the value of adversity

(excerpt from The Imitation of Christ – Thomas Kempis)

“IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.”


We often focus on the negativity of adversity, and how God can take away our adversity and allow us to triumph over it if we have enough faith. We think that if God is not delivering us from our trials that we haven’t prayed or sacrificed enough, or sometimes even that God isn’t listening.

But try this on for size –

Perhaps in times of adversity, you are being given that time as a gift or opportunity. Something to humble your heart and break your passions, to bring you on your knees back to God. Perhaps it isn’t punishment. Perhaps it is in answer to our prayers. Perhaps a growing spiritual life has earned the gift. Perhaps we should rejoice in adversity and affliction, as God’s servant Job was able to do, and so thank God for his infinite wisdom and bounteous graces. It is not on gilded chariots of ease and defeated adversity that most saints are heralded into the heavenly courts. It is on humbled knees and silent, suffering prostration that the most deserving souls are invited into the Beatific Vision.

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