(Sermon to Myself)
Today we had the 40th Day memorial service for Barbara. As I pondered how well she took her suffering, how she bore each new horror that befell her with inner calm, and never complained, it suddenly occurred to me that can’t think of when I have ever not complained – and my little tests are no more than dandelion fluff compared with hers!
What does it mean to protest, to complain, to strike back, when things don’t go my way? It means I am not content with what God has sent to me, or at least has allowed to come to me. It means I fail to exercise the faith which says it is all for my own good, to help me grow. It means I turn up my nose at the Doctor’s medicine. It means I am proud enough to think this is not fair, not as it should be, or even that I was somehow entitled to better.
But, self, if you could simply follow your little sister’s example and stop complaining! Stop complaining both inwardly and outwardly, then what? It wouldn’t mean you just wink at evil. Barbara fought against her cancer as hard as any human being could. One must continue to fight evil, but must begin with the evil within. If whenever you are insulted, mistreated, whenever someone demands too much of you, when you are cheated or lied to or inconvenienced, if you could simply stop complaining, and say to yourself, “This is no more than I deserve for my sins,” and if you could truly appreciate that this is no mere rhetorical device but the sober truth, if you could do the opposite, namely, bless those who curse you and pray for those who despitefully use you – ah, then, in the course of learning that, you would have conquered your baser (“fleshly”) self and have freed your spirit. In other words, if you simply stopped complaining, you could and would become a saint.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
(Sermon to Myself)