by J.R. Miller
Even of Jesus it is said that he “was made perfect through suffering.” We can save our life — only by losing it. We can bring out the better nature — only by the crucifying of the worst. We can develop our character, our true life — only by the denying of ourselves in those things that belong to the lower phases of life. We must keep our body under control, if we would attain the best possibilities of our higher nature. Many people dread the hindrances and obstacles which lie in their way; but, rightly seen, these are opportunities for making something of our life.
The law of sacrifice lies at the heart of all beautiful living. Everywhere we find illustrations of this. A great oak stands in the forest. It is beautiful in its majesty. It is ornamental. It casts a pleasant shade. Beneath its branches, the children play. Among its boughs, the squirrels frolic and the birds sing. The woodsman comes one day with his axe, and the tree quivers in all its branches, under his sturdy blows. “I am being destroyed!” cries the oak. So it seems, as the great tree crashes down to the ground. The children are sad because they can play no more under the broad branches. The birds grieve because they can no more nest amid the summer foliage. But let us follow the tree’s history: It is cut into boards and beams, and built into a beautiful cottage, and now human hearts have their home and nest there. Or it is used in some church where God is worshipped. Or it goes into the sides of a great ship which speeds over the seas. The losing of its life — was the saving of it. It died — that it might become deeply and truly useful.
by J.R. Miller