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These things are sent to try us

Posted by Baceseras on February 21, 2008 at 18:35:

In Reply to: These things are sent to try us posted by R. Berg on February 20, 2008 at 17:44:

: : : : Where did the saying "These things are sent to try us" come from?

: : : From the idea that events in our lives are planned elsewhere. That idea, in turn, originates with a belief that every event happens because someone wanted it to - an application of one kind of causation, personal agency, to classes of events that have other kinds of causes. Egocentrism is involved, too.

: : : If you want the name of the first person who uttered the sentence or the first one who wrote it in a work for publication, unfortunately, that information isn't usually available for this kind of saying. ~rb

: : I disagree. The essence of the saying hasn't to do with causation elsewhere of events in our lives, but with what good we are to make of things that befall us. It is taken for granted that we are not the creators of all the circumstances of our lives - these things really do come from 'elsewhere', from outside of us. But when these circumstances are more than commonly difficult, still our defeat is not a foregone conclusion: "These things are sent to try us," to test us, to push us to the limits of our ability so we in turn push our limits. - Bac.

: Well, then, there are at least two differing interpretations here. I agree that challenges originate outside the person and (sometimes) inspire us to rise to the occasion or discover new capacities for coping. To me, however, "sent" implies a sender -misfortunes don't just happen, they are *aimed* at people - and "to try us" means that the sending is purposeful. ~rb

I don't disagree with your reasoning here; as I said, the saying takes for granted that all the circumstances of life (not only misfortunes, but good fortune and indifferent things as well) come to us as the *data*, the "givens" of a life, if you will. The point of my disagreement is precisely that his view of things is to be taken for granted; and because of that very taken-for-granted-ness it can't be considered the burden of the saying --- which, again, has to do not with the source and origin of afflictions but with their ends and purposes. - Bac.