“For thou art not delighted in our being lost . . . .” (Tobias 3:22)
Let us feel persuaded, my brethren, that there is no one who loves us more than God. Saint Teresa says that God loves us more than we love ourselves. He has loved us from eternity. “Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love . . . .” (Jer. 31:3.) It is the love He has borne us that has drawn us from nothing, and given us being. “[T]herefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.” ( Jer. 31:3.) Hence, when God chastises us upon the earth, it is not because He wishes to injure us, but because He wishes us well, and loves us. So spoke Sara the wife of Tobias: But this every one is sure of that worshippeth thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy. For thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping thou pourest in joyfulness. (Jer. 3:21–22.)
My brethren, let us convince ourselves of what I have undertaken to show you today, namely, that God does not afflict us in this life for our injury but for our good, in order that we may cease from sin, and by recovering His grace escape eternal punishment.
“[A]nd I will give my fear in their heart, that they may not revolt from me.” (Jer. 32:40.) The Lord says that He infuses His fear into our hearts, in order that He may allow us to triumph over our passion for earthly pleasures, for which, ungrateful that we are, we have left Him. And when sinners have left Him, how does He make them look into themselves, and recover His grace? By putting on the appearance of anger, and chastising them in this life: “[I]n thy anger thou shalt break the people in pieces . . . .” (Ps. 55:8.) Another version, according to Saint Augustine, has: “In thy wrath thou shalt conduct the people.” Saint Augustine inquires, “What is the meaning of His conducting the people in his wrath?” He then replies: “Thou, O Lord, fillest us with tribulations, in order that, being thus afflicted, we may abandon our sins and return to Thee.”