Spiritual Lessons From Classic Literature

“…I hold another creed: which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling: for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest – a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: i live in calm, looking to the end…” – Helen Burns from Jane Eyre

This word and this quote are two things which have grown incredibly dear to my heart. I have kind of a side interest/hobby in reading classic literature, and both of these come from one of my current reads, a book written in 1847 by one Currer Bell, aka Charlotte Bronte. This book is Jane Eyre.  They come from a character in the book named Helen Burns. Helen was one of Jane’s first friends, and one that I feel helped to shape the characterization of Jane throughout the story.

Helen died an untimely death due to sickness, and the word ‘resurgam’, meaning “I will rise again”, was inscribed on her epitaph. This word has become dear to me because of the idea of rising again. It makes me think of the phoenix, for out of the ashes they are reborn into a more glorious form. It makes me remember the ashes that I have come out of and the beauty which the Lord has given me instead. We all have ashes in our past. One can’t avoid their ashes. What matters is how they handle and what they do with their ashes.  Isaiah 61:1-3 says:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me. Because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

This passage is Jesus speaking prophetically as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. He wants to take those things. Those dirty ashes that we sit in for far too long, and He wants to lift us up out of them and to trade us beauty for those ashes. For the mourning of whatever has happened to us, He wants to give us joy! For the oppression and heaviness that we feel as a result of those things, He wants to give us a garment of praise. SO this word, resurgam, is to me a reminder of the good that I have in Jesus and the mercy that He has had on a sinner like me to bring me out of my ashes and give me beauty that I don’t deserve. The LORD is gracious and compassionate :).

Also, the quote above is something that resonates within my spirit. Helen Burns seems to have a very good grasp on the concept of eternity. This is part of a response to Jane after she sees Helen experience injustice at the hands of a teacher in their boarding school. The thing that I think strikes me so much is the fact that this sounds SO MUCH like what we strive for in the Christian life. We want to have a view of eternity that makes it possible for us to forgive those that hurt us. In the light of eternity, we can see the difference between the crime committed against us and the one who did it which enables us to forgive them leaving whatever comes against us powerless. Afterall, those that love Jesus will end up with Him in the end anyways, so everything else pales in comparison. AND Jesus is coming to bring justice to the earth so that helps a bunch too :).

I hope that these things can shed some light, or at least give you something to think about. Be blessed!

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About totallykyle

20 years old. missionary at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO. Student at the Forerunner Music Academy. Forerunner. Worshiper. Lover.
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