I shared this once, a while ago, but I came across this letter again this evening and it is surely a timely word for me. This may speak to some of you as it did to me. It was written in the 1600′s by Francois Fenelon as advice to a disciple who was confined in many ways and obviously bearing his cross. — D
I cannot express to you how deeply I sympathize with you in your time of suffering. I suffer right along with you, but still, it cheers me up to know that God loves you. And the very proof that God loves you is that He does not spare you, but lays upon you the cross of Jesus Christ.
Whatever spiritual knowledge or feelings we may have, they are all a delusion if they do not lead us to the real and constant practice of dying to self. And it is true that we do not die without suffering. Nor is it possible to be considered truly dead while there is any part of us which is yet alive.
The spiritual death (which is really a blessing in disguise) is undeniably painful. It cuts “swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.” The great Physician, who sees in us what we cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts away that which we are most reluctant to give up. And how it hurts! But we must remember that pain is only felt where there is life, and where there is life is just the place where death is needed.
Our Father wastes no time by cutting into parts, which are already dead. Do not misunderstand me; He wants you to live abundantly, but this can only be accomplished by allowing Him to cut into that fleshly part of you which is still stubbornly clinging to life. Don’t expect God to deal with those vulgar, wicked desires, which you renounced forever when you gave yourself away to him. That part of you is already dead. But, He will deal with the parts of you that are still alive. He might even test your faith with restrictions and trials of all kinds.
Should you resist? Certainly not! You must learn to suffer all things! The death of self must be voluntary, and it can only be accomplished as far as you allow. Anyone who resists death and repels its advances shows that he is not willing to die.
You must be willing to yield to the will of God whenever He decides to remove from you all of the props on which you have leaned. Sometimes you must give up even your most spiritual friends, if they are props. “What fearest thou, oh thou of little faith? Do you fear that He may not be able to supply to you from Himself that help which He may have taken away on the human level? And why does He take human help away, except to supply you from Himself, and to purify you by the painful lesson?
I know how confined you are, but I am convinced that God means to accomplish His work in you by cutting off every human resource. He is a jealous God, and He wants you to understand that what He is about to perform in you has been done by Himself alone, and by no other.
So give yourself up to His plans. Allow yourself to be led wherever He wants to lead you. And be careful to not seek help from your friends if God is forbidding it. Your friends can only give you what He gives them for you. Why be so concerned about the dried-up streams when the rivers of living water are so available?