Have you ever wrestled, for days or even months on end, with accepting an undesirable situation that is out of your control? Have you ever struggled to find a deep and lasting satisfaction in your present circumstances that are less than what you hoped for, or think you should have received? I’ve been there MANY times. If you’re there now, perhaps this short excerpt from a 500+ yr. old book will help you as it has me. The reading is from The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a’ Kempis (1380-1471). It’s one of the most inspiring and painfully honest books I have ever read. I have returned to his prayer near the end of the section (in bold text below) over and over again when I’ve struggled in these ways. A’ Kempis’ work is a spiritual writing and is best used slowly and prayerfully during a quiet break or moment in your day.
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MY CHILD, this is the way you must speak on every occasion: “Lord, if it be pleasing to You, so be it. If it be to Your honor, Lord, be it done in Your name. Lord, if You see that it is expedient and profitable for me, then grant that I may use it to Your honor. But if You know that it will be harmful to me, and of no good benefit to the welfare of my soul, then take this desire away from me.”
Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may seem right and good. It is difficult to be certain whether it is a good spirit or a bad one that prompts one to this or that, and even to know whether you are being moved by your own spirit. Many who seemed at first to be led by a good spirit have been deceived in the end.
Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God and humility of heart. Above all, commit the whole matter to Me with true resignation, and say:“Lord, You know what is better for me; let this be done or that be done as You please. Grant what You will, as much as You will, when You will. Do with me as You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your greater honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all things. I am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way You will. Behold, I am Your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for You — would that I could do this worthily and perfectly!”
From Book 3, Ch. 15: HOW ONE SHOULD FEEL AND SPEAK ON EVERY DESIRABLE THING, in The Imitation of Christ.