“To know one’s self amid storm and darkness, amid fire and water, amid disease and pain, even during the approach of death, is to be a Christian, for that is how the Master felt in the hour of darkness, because he knew it a fact.”
– George MacDonald, Castle Warlock
To regard any suffering with satisfaction, save it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil, is inhuman because undivine, is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes. Because God is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is, I believe, no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of God; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.
– George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons
The key is that the treatment is medicinal. There is no medicine a parent would withhold from his child, who is dying of cancer. A extreme treatment or cure would be preferable to the loss of the life of the child. But the good news is that we ourselves can be a part of that treatment, and begin to work alongside it, and so lessen the need for the severity of the curative tonics. And when we are on board, and know that the treatment (pain, or consequences of our erroneous actions) is for the healing of our souls, then we can consent to the treatment plan, and it will be less painful. Knowledge and understanding changes so much- it makes the agonies easier to bear.
“With all the reminders of death we have about us, not one of us feels as if he were going to die. We think of other people … dying, and it always seems we are going to be alive when they die; and why? Just because we are not going to die. This thinking part in us feels no symptom of ceasing to be. We think on and on, and death seems far from us, for it belongs only to our bodies–not to us. So the soul forgets it. It is no part of religion to think about death. It is the part of religion, when the fact and thought of death come in, to remind us that we live for ever, and that God, who sent His Son to die, will help us through that fearful strait that lies before us, and which often grows so terrible to those who fix their gaze upon it.”
—From George MacDonald’s ‘Guild Court’