27th July

Trials Can Build Character

Consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way. James 1:2,

Cuthbert, Bede tells us, began to be prepared by the fires of temporal pain for the joys of eternal bliss. Herefrith, the abbot of Lindisfarne, told Bede exactly what happened. He came with some monks on a care visit to Cuthbert on Farne island, and discovered Cuthbert was terminally ill. Cuthbert declined Herefrith’s offer to leave some brothers on the island to care for him, but advised ‘Come back when God directs you.’ Five days of violent storm ensued, which prevented any brothers from returning to Cuthbert. Herefrith reported, ‘As events proved, this was a divine dispensation. For in order that Almighty God might, by chastisement, purify his servant from all blemish of worldly weakness and in order that he might show his adversaries that they could avail nothing against the strength of his faith, he wished to test him by bodily pain and by a still fiercer contest with the ancient foe, cutting him off from human beings for that length of time.’

When they did return Herefrith attended to his needs, and told Cuthbert he was amazed that he had insisted on being left unattended. ‘It happened through the providence of God,’ Cuthbert assured him, ‘that destitute of human company and care I should suffer some trials.’ Cuthbert told him how after he had left his illness immediately became worse, and he crawled over to the guest hut by the shore, and lay there without moving for five days, his only food being a few nibbles of onions. “My adversaries have never persecuted me so frequently, during all the time I have been living on this island, as over the last five says’ he told his friend. After that, Cuthbert had some brothers with him until he died, one of whom, Beda, had been a long-standing friend.

Lord, if this day you have to correct us
Put us right not out of anger
But with a mother’s and a father’s heart.
So may we, your children,
Be kept free of all falseness and foolishness
From Mexico