The Letters of St. Paul of the Cross: ‘Preparing You With Pain’

Ah! My beloved, you see that God wishes to perform a great work in your heart and, therefore, is preparing you with pain and the exercise of virtue. Therefore, continue to conduct yourself to all as a meek lamb and be happy that all your plans are upset, even though they are good . The time will come when God will bring your plans to fulfillment and true perfection. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 124)

“A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged. Till He has established justice in the earth;”

Isa 42:3-4

At times, God allows for all our plans to be frustrated, even though we are sure these plans are from Him and that He put these ideas into us from the start. Why then do our plans seem to come to ruin and do not appear to be successful at all? God always sees the bigger vision and He knows what it will take to accomplish His plan in the earth. Human beings are so flawed with sin that truly it is amazing He would give us a plan to carry out at all. He doesn’t snuff us out like a smoking flax but He lets us grope for Him in the darkness at times when it seems nothing is going the way we think it ought.

Times of difficulty and trial, though painful, help us to become detached from the assignment itself and not allow the assignment to become our identity. Our identity is always to be Him alone and our affections and attention reserved for Him alone. He is careful to form our soul after His likeness, as the scripture says, “He learned obedience through that which He suffered.”[i]

We also learn obedience through trials that we suffer. When our plans get frustrated and even appear to fail, He is molding us and making us after His likeness. Our response in these difficulties is what He is looking for. Will we “cast all our cares on Him for He cares for us?”[ii] Will we yield to the pain of failure and give over the assignment to Him knowing that He is able to do all that He called us to do? Will we trust Him in the pain of the cross? Seeming failure, seeming abandonment by God and people, opposition from demonic forces, and constant temptation to quit and disqualify oneself are common to all who would set their heart to follow Him.

In these dire situations, all that can be done is to stand and believe in the One Who is faithful for He cannot deny Himself. If you don’t quit, you win. Faith is highly pleasing to Him when all seems lost. Hoping against all hope. Believing when all seems impossible and in ruins. God will always have the last word and no devil or person will prevail over Him who is the triumphant One. Our trust and hope belong to Him alone. He desires that we not disqualify ourselves from the impossible task He gives us. In due time, He will allow our plans to be fruitful. But first, He is after our hearts to be completely detached from all else. This detachment is so important to Him that He allows us to suffer loss, for He is able to restore all in a moment. He asked Abraham to sacrifice the promised son to see if truly he was detached even from His own promised beloved son; and Abraham was going to carry it out knowing God could raise him from the dead if He so chose![iii]

God is not willing that we lose all by giving us too early what would bring us to ruin quickly. He allows us to be tempered by trials and suffering and does not put out the smoking wick. We fail, but He will not fail, nor be discouraged[iv]; therefore, we can fully put our trust and hope in Him. If our plans are truly His plans, then we can give them all back to Him and surrender ourselves to His desires and His timing in all things.

Prayer: Jesus, I surrender to you this assignment you have given me. I cannot do it on my own. Only You can do what You have called me to do! I abandon myself to you. Having done all to stand, [help me to] stand[v]. In Jesus Name, Amen.


[i] Hebrews 5:8

[ii] 1 Peter 5:7

[iii] Hebrews 11:17-19

[iv] Isaiah 42:4

[v] Ephesians 6:13-14

Image by Malachi Cowie on Unsplash

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