Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tolstoy and futility

From Leo Tolstoy's short story The Death of Ivan Ilyich:

It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilych's physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture.

His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at Gerasim's sleepy, good-natured face with it prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?"

It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend.

I'm grateful this morning that God the Father, through God the Son and by God the Holy Spirit, has not only saved me from sin, death, and Satan, but He has also saved me from a futile life. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:20-21 ESV) And, "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." (Ephesians 4:17 ESV) Though my life has been far from perfect and my living of it has been equally marred by my own sin, at the end I am confident I will not wonder if my life has 'all been wrong'. The potential for that thought was removed when a gracious God regenerated this dead man and justified and adopted me. Futility has been defeated.

No comments:

Post a Comment