A Paragraph or Two

By: Alex Ramos

“They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”
— Spurgeon

I would assume the drinking of hemlock would not be a joyous occasion; though Socrates would respond in the negative. I would assume that prison is not a joyful place; though Paul contradicts me at every turn. And I would finally conclude neither were being crucified; though Joy Himself suffered most. It is a paradox which reconciles itself. We do not suffer because we are devoid of joy; we are devoid of joy because we have not suffered.

It seems the moments of acute happiness in a man’s life are derived directly from his hardships. A man knows the joy of seeing his child grown only because he had suffered through making sure the child had grown in the first place. A strong man the joy of seeing what one has been rewarded after days of callous hands and strained muscles. And a slothful man knows the joy of nothing, only the suffering of boredom. Boast therefore in your hardships and make sure you have hardships to boast in.

In today’s age it seems the term “thank you” holds just as much weight as the paper this is printed on. The men of old — who I declare with zeal to be the wiser men — had a much different idea of these words: “thank you”. Just as one could not tell a crooked line from the straight line he has never seen, so too one could not be thankful until he has already experienced what it is like to not have anything to be thankful for. Put more plainly, the only way to truly be thankful is if one has been utterly reduced to what seems like nothingness; a descent into some ethereal plain that seems as though it is devoid of meaning. It is only when we realize that if the world was devoid of meaning we should have never discovered it was meaningless.

There is a reason for suffering. Our brief encounters with joy — whether it be found in fellowship or music — are exactly that, brief. We may enjoy their company, but it is fatal to mistake them for our home. Nothing in this world can truly satisfy. This world is partly comprised of time and time denotes a passing away of whatever have you. That landscape will be grown over, that instrument will go out of tune, freshly picked apples will soon rot, and so is the nature of the world we inhabit. Things die because Death lives — that is in a matter of speaking.

The man on top forgets to look up, but the man below knows nothing but, for he only has the sky to look at. He is founded, planted in the bedrock beneath, and needs not worry about the shifting of his platform. He roams the plains and scales the mountains. He sails the sea and treks the forests. He knows Creation. He is below; nay, he is lowly. Blessed is he, for the meek shall inherit the Earth.

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