Book 3, Chapter 16: True Solace is to be Sought in God Alone.
Comment: What does comfort make you think of? A favorite blanket, or hot soup? Perhaps you see yourself resting on a beach, or reading by the fire. Comfort brings refreshment and we are re-energized by our ability to rest and relax and sink into the state of just being alive.
Solace is like that but goes further because it is comfort provided to us when we are unnerved or upset or in mourning. The two words go together. When we are comforted by a friend while in mourning, we may simply go limp in the arms of our comforter and weep to let out the pent up anxiousness and sadness. This is what Thomas is getting at in Chapter 16.
As we separate ourselves from the worldly comforts, even missing friends who are not on the same journey as us, we can mourn them and rely on God’s holy comfort and solace.
Back to the beach, we want it all sometimes. But even when we have “it” we are not satisfied. Thomas tells us that our satisfaction is not in an “it” but in a “Him”: Jesus. When we have Jesus always and everywhere, we can find both solace and comfort. Isn’t that a comforting thought?
Chapter 16, In Short.
1. You can only be fully comforted and perfectly refreshed in God, the Comforter.
2. Even if you had all the good things ever created, you still could not be happy and blessed
Chapter 16: True Solace is to be Sought in God Alone.
Whatever I am able to desire or to think of for my solace, I do not look for it here, but in the hereafter. For if I had all the solaces of this world, and were able to enjoy all its delights, it is certain that these comforts could not last long. Therefore, O my soul, you can only be fully comforted and perfectly refreshed in God, the Comforter of the poor, and the receiver of the humble.
Wait a little while, my soul, wait for the Divine promise, and you will have an abundance of good things in heaven. If you long inordinately for current things, you will lose sight of those things which are eternal and heavenly. Let temporal things be in what is useful, and eternal things are in what is desired. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal good, for you were not created for the enjoyment of these.
2. Even if you had all the good things ever created, you still could not be happy and blessed. All your blessedness and all your happiness lie in God who created all things. We are not talking about such happiness as that which seems good to the foolish lover of the world, but rather that which Christ’s good and faithful servants wait for, and as the spiritual and pure in heart sometimes taste, whose conversation is
in heaven.(Phil 3:20)
All human solace is empty and short-lived. Blessed and true is that comfort which is felt inwardly, springing from the truth. The godly disciple
carries about his own Comforter everywhere, Jesus, and says to Him: “Be with me, Lord Jesus, always and everywhere. Let it be my comfort to be able to cheerfully give up all human comfort. And if Your consolation fails me, let Your will and righteous approval be with me always for the highest comfort. For You will not always be rebuking, neither holding Your anger forever.”(Ps 102:9)