Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Price of Nice

“‘The true aristocracy and the true proletariat of the world are both in understanding with tragedy. To them it is a fundamental principle of God and the key—the minor key—to existence. They differ in this way from the bourgeoisie of all classes, who deny tragedy, who will not tolerate it, and to whom the world of tragedy means itself unpleasantness.’

“Perhaps this is just the key we have lost. Suffering, even in its mildest forms—inconvenience, delay, disappointment, discomfort, or anything that is not in harmony with our whims and preferences—we will not tolerate. We even reject and deny it….

“Have we missed a fundamental principle of God? Is not suffering, loss, even death itself the minor key to existence? Do we not lose our very lives by trying so hard to save them?

“The words which have illuminated for me the deepest understanding of suffering are Jesus’ own, ‘In truth, in very truth I tell you, a grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.’ This, He told His disciples, was the key. There is a necessary link between suffering and glory.

—Elisabeth Elliot, in A Path Through Suffering, commenting on a quote from Isak Dinesen

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