We have a God who is infinitely gracious and knows all our wants. I always thought that he would reduce you to extremity. He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever; thank Him with me for the favors he does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which he gives you in your afflictions. It is a plain mark of the care He takes of you. Comfort yourself, then, with Him, and give thanks for all. –Brother Lawrence ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’
Extremity: The extreme or terminal point, limits, or part of something; a condition or circumstance of extreme need or distress; to suffer the extremities of being poor; extreme nature or character. The utmost or any extreme degree: the extremity of joy; an extreme or extraordinary measure, act—to go to any extremity to feed the children.
A blog to consider: The Cloistered Heart.
For the first year, I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion with the thought of death, judgment, heaven, hell, and my sins. Thus, continued some years, applying my mind carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my business, to the presence of GOD, whom I considered always as with me, often as in me.
At length, I came insensibly to do the same thing during my set time of prayer, which caused in me great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for GOD, that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point.
Such was my beginning; and yet I must tell you that for the first ten years I suffered much: the apprehension that I was not devoted to GOD as I wished to be, my past sins always present to my mind, and the great unmerited favors which GOD did me, were the matter and source of my sufferings. During this time, I fell often, and rose again presently. It seemed to me that all creatures, reason, and GOD Himself were against me; and faith alone for me. I was troubled sometimes with thoughts that to believe I had received such favors was an effect of my presumption, which pretended to be at once where others arrive with difficulty; at other times that it was a wilful delusion, and that there was no salvation for me.
When I thought of nothing but to end my days in these troubles (which did not at all diminish the trust I had in GOD, and which served only to increase my faith), I found myself changed all at once; and my soul, which, till that time, was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if she were in her center and place of rest. –Brother Lawrence ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’
He (Brother Lawrence) noted that there was a great difference between the acts of the intellect and those of the will. Acts of the intellect were comparatively of little value. Acts of the will were all important. Our only business was to love and delight ourselves in God. All possible kinds of mortification, if they were void of the love of God, could not efface a single sin. Instead, we ought, without anxiety, to expect the pardon of our sins from the blood of Jesus Christ only endeavoring to love Him with all our hearts. And he noted that God seemed to have granted the greatest favors to the greatest sinners as more signal monuments of His mercy.
The whole substance of religion was faith, hope, and charity. In the practice of these we become united to the will of God. Everything else is indifferent and to be used as a means that we may arrive at our end and then be swallowed up by faith and charity. All things are possible to him who believes. They are less difficult to him who hopes. They are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues. The end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshipers of God we can possibly be, and as we hope to be through all eternity. —Brother Lawrence ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’