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How We Punish Ourselves

Why does pain exist? What it mean? What are we to learn from it? What place can it have in the scheme of a universe created and governed by One Whose nature is compassionate and whose name is Love? So humanity has fretted and questioned since the beginnings of time, and so it may do until its cries are quenched under the pall of everlasting silence. Yet, if our hearts would but accept and believe what our glib lips affirm; if we were to reason together and work things out to a rational conclusion, all questioning and discontent, all murmurings, at what we call the "Divine Will" and the "Hand of God," would cease. To those who are honest in their implied faith and sincere in their desire for a better life, the reason of suffering, its prevention and cure can be shown, and it can be proved that in spite of all the pain and sorrow in this body, love and compassion are attributes of God, and that the more we suffer, the more He pities.

We bring our suffering upon ourselves through not keeping God's law. Christ taught that a man reaps what he sows. We read His words and try to invest them with all sorts of mystic import—anything to shuffle out of accepting their plain, bald, straight, simple meaning.

Put into modern words—of which we should not be afraid since we profess to make use of Christ's teaching in modern life—the idea would be presented thus:—"A man makes his own destiny and is master of his fate, for whatever he thinks or does, comes back again to him." Each deed and each secret thought puts in motion the machinery that in fullness of time shall return them to him in unrecognizable completeness. The machinery never gets out of order; it is the same mechanism that brings round each season in its turn, that curbs the ocean tides, that controls the moon's appearing; that makes the rain fall, the sun to shine, the flowers to bloom and die. What is this power? What places the planets, and what paints the rose; what lights to myriad stars, and what bestows its perfume upon the violet?

What is the force that looks after all these things? It is the law of Nature, the simple law that we, poor fools, are not simple enough to understand; a law immutable, unchangeable, unerring, just, correct. It is the law of Nature that a bad seed cannot bring forth good fruit. Seeds (that is, our thoughts, words, feelings, actions, wishes) that are good produce good results for us; seeds that are evil bring poisonous, bitter fruit, some sixty, and some an hundred fold. The pain we bear now is the result of our having sown bad seed, of having by a thought, wish, or deed in past days put into motion that accurate, unfailing mechanism—the law of Nature. When sorrow comes it is nothing but what we have laid up for ourselves. Our thoughts and actions come home to roost and THIS LAW NEVER CHANGES.

Think, then, how God compassionates is when we suffer, knowing as He does that we might have prevented it, but would not. Then let us work out our own salvation, and lay up for ourselves, not suffering, but joy; not pain, trouble, or fear, but health, happiness, and high courage by thinking rightly, by living unselfishly and at peace with all; by working faithfully, and by resisting evil, but by overcoming evil with good; by taking as our everyday example the Christ who went about doing good, whose life and death spelt the one word "self-sacrifice." Thus, and thus only, shall we free ourselves from pain.

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Hope La Gallienne

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