Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died yesterday, at the age of 89. I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich back in high school and volume one of The Gulag Archipelago in college. These books portray the savage brutality that is all too common in human experience, and yet offer glimpses of hope as well. Here is a quote from the second volume of The Gulag Archipelago from John Piper’s blog this morning:
It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts…. That is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: “Bless you, prison!” I…have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!
Suffering is an ordinary part of life, and as a Christian I might suffer more in this life than I would have if I were not a Christian. May I accept suffering and trials with God’s peace and joy.
Grace and Peace