The Eternal Malcontent
By Paulo Coelho
Shanti was travelling from town to town, preaching the Divine word, when a man came to him hoping that he would cure his ills.
‘Work, eat and praise God,’ Shanti told him.
‘When I work, my back hurts. When I eat, I get indigestion. When I drink, my throat burns. When I pray, I don’t feel that God is listening to me.’
‘Then find another teacher.’
The man left in disgust. Shanti remarked to those who had heard the conversation:
‘He had two possible ways of looking at things and he always chose the worst one. When he dies, he’ll probably complain about how cold it is in his grave.’
[We all know people like Shanti’s would-be disciple. They see the downside to everyone and everything. They have a tendency to whine. They expect and prepare for the worst. After a while we try to avoid someone like that, but sometimes we can’t (spouse, wife, parent, boss, child).
If anyone had a right to be bitter, it was St. Paul. According to his own letters and the Acts of the Apostles he was struck blind, distrusted by Christians and despised by the Pharisees after his conversion, beaten, stoned, jailed, rejected, and shipwrecked. Two short passages say a lot to us about how attitude makes a difference.]
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8-9)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)
[St. Paul wrote his Letter to the Philippians while he was under arrest.]
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