Ah, Lord! What trials begin afresh for this soul! Who would think such a thing possible after it had received so signal a favor? But, after all, we must bear crosses in one way or another for as long as we live. And if anyone told me that after reaching this state he had enjoyed continual rest and joy, I should say that he had not reached it at all, but that if he had got as far as the previous Mansion, he might possibly have experienced some kind of consolation, the effect of which was enhanced by physical weakness, and perhaps even by the devil, who gives peace to the soul in order later to wage a far severer war upon it. (Interior Castle: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Two)
The magnificent transformation from silkworm to “butterfly” does not exempt us from trials. If fact, this transformation will bring us new trials. Trials and suffering are a lengthy and complex topic so I will limit my discussion to a few principles:
- There is some “cause and effect” to our choices. But this is only a partial explanation of why good and bad things happen to us.
- We experience collateral damage from the poor choices of others. Our inaction also causes collateral damage.
- Trials and suffering can be the result of systemic forces (e.g. culture, governments, families, churches, businesses). Power struggles and competition strengthen the negative forces within these systems. The only effective long-range solution is “kingdom behavior” like love, humility, prayer, truth-telling, and non-violent confrontation.
- Demonic forces also inflict trials and suffering. They desire to destroy all that is good in our lives. Kingdom principles are also effective weapons in spiritual warfare.
- Our suffering is redemptive for others and us. Redemption is superior to recovery.
- Acceptance of suffering is healthy; complacency compounds the pain. So take action!
We must “bear crosses” (i.e. suffering and humiliation). The devil undermines our spiritual growth when he convinces us we can or should be free of trials.