Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
– I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
– I shall fear only God.
– I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
– I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
– I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
This quote has rather dominated the last 5 months of my life. I have always loved it but I don’t think I ever truly understood the courage it takes to resist submitting to injustice, nor the resolve required to resist untruth and endure all suffering as a consequence of that resistance.
When you speak truth to power, there may be immediate rewards and even glory. And let’s be honest – it can feel downright liberating to let people know exactly what you think.
Just as easily, there may be other consequences that do not feel so wonderful. There are often real, painful, and harsh penalties that do not feel as satisfying, including humiliation, rejection, and betrayal. In fact, you should probably count on it. Most folks don’t respond well when you call them out and hold them to account and they will take their pound of flesh, make no mistake.
This is why I love Gandhi’s quote so much. It reminds me that I must expect to be faced with these harsh and often unjust consequences, to anticipate them and be ready to pay the price. It is part of being a wayseeker.
One of Gandhi’s other lessons is that suffering is part of living and those who can accept this and embrace it can find peace. It is when we resist suffering, when we rail against it, when we wring our hands and gnash our teeth, that we dispair. Suffering can be endured. Dispair, however, is soul destroying.
When we suffer for the right reasons – because we stood up for truth or beauty or to preserve human dignity – we might lose friends, get fired from our jobs, or face arrest or imprisonment. Recognize this, and accept these as the price for walking this path.
Like Gandhi, Jesus understood what it meant to suffer for the truth. No one was better at declaring the truth and calling people out when they denied it or acted in ways that were not in alignment with the truth. And no one was more willing to suffer pain, humiliation and eventually death in defense of the truth and beauty of God’s Kingdom.
I am currently suffering for the truth. I spoke my truth and demanded that I be treated with dignity and I was cast out and humiliated for it, publicly and in a most inhumane manner imaginable. It has made me question my faith in people and certainly undermined my naive belief that honesty is a policy that is rewarded.
This is hard!
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him..” This is such an important lesson. We are one with Jesus when we take up a cross and carry it, willingly, for the right reasons! When we suffer because we fear no man but God and will speak the truth, we may well suffer, but we will also be one with our teacher.
We are never to suffer needlessly, however, because of things like guilt or shame. Good Lord, put those crosses down! Jesus died for those exact sins so that we would be free from their heavy weight and impossible burden. This is his grace and mercy to us.
The follow-up to this verse, of course, is a reminder that if we deny Jesus, he will deny us. This sounds rather harsh, but I make sense of it in this way: we are called to walk by faith, not by sight. When we suffer, or when we see others in pain, we may be tempted to impose a timeline on things. We are willing to endure, but only for so long. Then we want it to stop, for things to get better, to be rewarded for our efforts.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. God has his own timeline and it rarely aligns with ours. In those agonizing minutes and months and years of prolonged suffering, we may move from grudging endurance to outright resentment. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we didn’t sign up for this! And we might be tempted, in our frustration, to believe we’ve been abandoned. We lose faith.
Remember to keep going. Remember to walk by faith alone. When the reality of your suffering becomes great, close your eyes and keep on moving. This is the path of the wayseeker. You are not lost and you have not been foresaken. You can’t see the end of the road, but God can and it will end. It always does, one way or another, and as long as you don’t lose faith, your place beside Jesus is confirmed.
That is the only thought that keeps me moving sometimes. When I feel my commitment flagging, when I think I can’t go another step, sometimes all I have left is a battered and worn out “Hallelujah”. Yes, in my low moments it even rings hollow to my own ears. But it is better to say that – and hope it rings true in time – then to abandon the Way altogether. And I’ll keep saying it until my faith feels steady once more.
Supprisingly, even some in Hollywood understand this (and why shouldn’t we embrace Home Truths, even when they come from such an unlikely source. Truth is Truth). In one of the final scenes of the Star Wars epic Rogue One, the inimitable blind warrior Monk of Jedha, Churrit Imwe repeatedly intones:
“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.”
Now there is a lesson: if I say it often enough, it will guide my steps and I do not have to see where I am going in order to arrive at the right place at exactly the right time.
Truer words were never spoken.