When All Consolation is Taken Away

The Following of Christ

You must learn to give up your dearest and most needed friend, if necessary, for the love of Jesus. Neither should you grieve too much when a good friend leaves you. In the end we must all go our way, one by one.

A man has to go through a hard and long struggle with himself before he learns to master himself completely and direct all his affection to God.

When a man relies on himself, he often falls victim to human consolations. But the true lover of Christ and zealous imitator of his virtues does not fall back on consolation, nor does he seek sweetness. Rather, he chooses strenuous labour and hard suffering for the love of Christ.

For this reason, when God grants you spiritual consolation, accept it with gratitude. Just remember, it is a gift from God and not something you have earned or deserve.

Do not get proud. Do not feel too elated or smug with yourself when things go well for you, spiritually. Rather, let God’s gifts make you more humble, more prudent and more cautious, in everything you do, for this peace will pass, and temptation will follow.

When God withdraws his consolation from you, do not despair. Just wait in humility and patience, until another heavenly visitation comes. Whatever God withholds or withdraws, he is able to give back in much greater measure.

The Spirit of God comes and goes however he pleases. Like Job says, “You visit him early in the morning, then you prove him suddenly.”

On what may I build my hope, and in what shall I put my trust, save in the great mercy of God alone, and in the hope of heavenly grace?

Even though I live in the midst of wonderful brothers and sisters, even though I have many faithful friends, read good books, listen to lovely hymns and take part in the worship of God, all these are of little help and small comfort when I feel forsaken by grace and left to my own poverty. For such times the best remedy is to wait in patience and submit myself to the will of God.

I have never found anyone, no matter how spiritually-minded he may be, that does not experience this withdrawal of grace from time to time, or that never feels dejected and sad. Never was there a saint so highly exalted and enlightened that he lived completely outside the range of temptation.  

No one enters greater and higher levels of fellowship with Jesus, but through suffering affliction with a good attitude.

Really bad temptations and great spiritual struggles are usually a sign that exceptional comfort and grace is about to come. To those that withstand temptations, God promises heavenly comfort. “To him that overcomes,” he says, “I will give to eat of the tree of life” (Rev. 11:7).

God gives you heavenly comfort from time to time so you may become stronger to bear adversity. And he lets you suffer adversity so you will not become proud and trust in yourself.

The devil has not gone to sleep yet, nor has your flesh died for the last time. For this reason, do not stop preparing yourself for the fight. On your right hand and on your left are enemies that never rest.

Geert Groote, 1340-1384, Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, Deventer, Netherlands

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