The following is a reply to one student’s assignment question. The instructor is relating to the student’s struggle with poverty and learning not to feel like a victim in that situation. Because the student is religious the instructor also uses terminology relating to his values. – – – –
From what a deep place of personal experience you write! This is exactly it. Frankl stated; “If religion is to survive it has to be profoundly personalized.” That is, its truths must be felt to the bone. How is our faith purified, made very real to us, given its ultimate significance, if not tested in the fire of affliction? Frankl is a living witness, a missionary of transcendence, of the fact that faith, to be faith, has to and is meant to stand the test of even the most contrary circumstances! Those circumstances throw up the despair, the envy and the jealousies, the self-condemnation that you speak of. In choosing not to be the victim of these negative attitudes and painful perceptions, we get rid of them.
See what you and your wife have gained despite it! We lose faith, not because of the circumstances themselves but because of how we perceive them.
At the core, every negative or punitive interpretation of hurtful circumstances questions the justice and goodness of God. When we can rise to the occasion and transcend those circumstances we disprove the validity of despair and complaint. When we put our faith into action, we declare what God was after in allowing those circumstances to test us, namely, what Frankl called: “an unconditional faith in the unconditional meaningfulness of life!”
You have found great meaning despite your circumstances of poverty. What’s more, you have begun to experience meaning in the suffering of poverty itself, namely, a mission to declare our freedom from circumstances, whatever they are, to anyone suffering similar circumstances.
But why has the struggle with money been a family heritage? Why is this particular affliction been given to you as your lot? What is the bigger picture? What are you supposed to do with this challenge that you have personally suffered and met? Is there a particular message, a greater commission, to send out to the world? Is there a greater service that is meant to be rendered?
The glorious and stupendous beauty of it all is that God orders our sufferings for good. Painful and distressing circumstances (which can also be suffered by the rich in their feeling of emptiness, a lack of challenge in their lives) are meant to serve us: to awaken us, to stir into action – what Frankl called the defiant power of the human spirit. The truth manifests itself as the truth. Truth entails defiance, contradiction and nullification of the lie, even to the last shred or remaining shadow of it.
What a common scourge this is in the world: the panting after wealth, the curses of poverty as a breeding ground for the lust after money, possessions, comforts, the prestige of having so much more than anybody else. In fact, all the wars for occupation of greater land, greater wealth, greater power, all the theft and murder, envious slander and fraudulence, are based on a lust for money. Great ambition (to have) and resentful dissatisfaction (in not having) are based on the misperception of the meaning of money – not understanding that it is merely a means and not an end in itself.
We are challenged to learn to live simply and with contentment. Our riches are to be of another sort, evident of another Kingdom: the wealth of spiritual greatness and exemplary being in an accumulation of that which money cannot buy: God’s immense blessings in that which lasts and cannot be stolen or taken away from us, which nothing and no-one can deprive us of.
This surely is the bigger picture of your affliction, the greater mission, in whichever way you are going to fulfill it! And what is more: there is an abundance waiting, a state of nothing wanting in every level of life, yes, also down to its basics: in the means we need to live and to fulfill our missions, no longer with the distraction of having to battle for a living.
It will be so exciting to see how this pans out for you!
You never fail to stimulate my thoughts, thank you for that, and may these thoughts serve to bless and encourage you,