THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
The LORD speaks:
My child, I am the Lord, and it is I who strengthens you in the day of tribulation. Come to Me when you are suffering.
It is your reluctance to come more speedily to the place of prayer which most distances you from heavenly consolations. Before you turn in earnest to prayer, you look elsewhere for relief, and seek it in a multitude of worldly refuges.
Yet all these are really of very little benefit, and you will finally have to admit that I alone am the One who delivers all who hope in me, and that, apart from Me there is no effective succour, no useful counsel, no lasting remedy.
Now that you are beginning to breathe again after the tempest you have been through, take heart as you reflect on all My mercies to you. For I am near you, says the Lord, to restore all that you have lost, and far more besides.
Is there anything which is too difficult for Me? Or am I like those who promise much but who deliver little? Where is your faith? Remain firm and persevere.
Do not grow weary but take heart; the fruit will come in its time. Wait, wait for Me; I will come, and I will heal you.
The matter which is so greatly agitating you is a temptation, and though it is terrifying you it is a vain and needless fear.
What do all these worries about an uncertain future bring you except sadness upon sadness? Has not each day enough evil of its own?
What could be more foolish or more pointless than to rejoice, or be cast down for that matter, by the thought of future events which may well never happen!
It is a consequence of the fallen human condition to be the plaything of these imaginations, but it is the sign of an immature soul that it yields so easily to the suggestions the enemy sends.
It is of no particular importance to the devil whether he seduces and deceives you by real things or by false imaginations; whether he conquers you by the love of worldly possessions or by the fear of future evil
Therefore, do not let your heart be troubled, and do not fear. Believe in Me, and trust in My mercy.
Often when you feel furthest from Me, that is when I am in reality closest.
Even when you think everything is lost, it may often be an opportunity for a yet greater service. All is not lost when success does not come in the way that you had hoped for.
You should not judge everything by how you are feeling at the moment, nor give in to any affliction, however caused, and be cast down by it as if you were left with no hope at all of escape.
Do not think that I have completely abandoned you when I allow you to be afflicted for a season, or that I am withdrawing My grace. It is through many tribulations that you must enter the kingdom of heaven.
It is better for you, as for all My servants, to be trained by setbacks than never to have known any vexations.
I know the secret of your heart, and I know that it is useful for your salvation that you should sometimes experience dryness, lest by continually experiencing great spiritual fervour you become complacent. Then, through self-satisfaction and presumption, you would begin to imagine yourself to be something that in reality you are not.
What I have given I can withdraw or return whenever I choose. What I give is always Mine, and what I take back was never yours. All that you have and every good gift comes from Me.
If I send you some trouble and some vexation, do not complain about it, and do not let your heart be unduly weighed down. I can free you from the burden in a moment of time and turn your sorrow into joy. When I work in such ways in your life, I know what I am doing, and I am worthy of all praise.
Therefore, if you approach these matters with wisdom and discernment you need never cause yourself such distress when adversity comes your way. Rather, you should rejoice and give Me thanks for them. It should even be your highest joy that I send you such severe afflictions.
As My Father has loved Me, so also do I love you. This is what I told My disciples when I sent them out, not to experience the joys of the world, but to wage great warfare; not to possess honour but to suffer scorn, not to live in idleness but to work hard, not to rest but to bear much fruit through patience. Remember these words, my child.
The Imitation of Christ is probably the best-selling Christian book of all time apart from the Bible. This manual on developing the inner life dates from a time of revival in late medieval Holland. It was probably written by the scholar Thomas a Kempis for the benefit of his own community, but its appeal remains universal for Christians who are eager to deepen their devotional lives.