Wisdom is hidden in the valley of pain and hardship

Maroon Bells, Elk Mountains, Colorado, USA

“Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”

― G.K. Chesterton, The Hammer of God, The Innocence of Father Brown

One of the reasons that God allows us to go through elongated periods of hardship and troubles is that we are taught the most when we are in that place. If you are not there, if you have resisted allowing God to do this with your life as you obey Him, you will not see what is happening around you as well.

God opens our eyes and our hearts when in pain and gives us wisdom.

“Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.”

-G.K. Chesterton, A Piece of Chalk, Tremendous Trifles, (also Daily News, 1905)

Wisdom given by God is most definitely a virtue. God says it is a superlative virtue worth more than money. And He will give it to us without reproach ( James 1:5) In fact, to gain wisdom, we must be in a humble place.

“Humility was largely meant as a restraint upon the arrogance and infinity of the appetite of man. He was always out-stripping his mercies with his own newly invented needs…But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. 

– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The rest of the passage in The Hammer of God illuminates this point.

“I think there is something rather dangerous about standing on these high places even to pray,” said Father Brown. “Heights were made to be looked at, not to be looked from.”

Do you mean that one may fall over,” asked Wilfred.

“I mean that one’s soul may fall if one’s body doesn’t,” said the other priest.

“I scarcely understand you,” remarked Bohun indistinctly.

“Look at that blacksmith, for instance,” went on Father Brown calmly; “a good man, but not a Christian–hard, imperious, unforgiving. Well, his Scotch religion was made up by men who prayed on hills and high crags, and learnt to look down on the world more than to look up at heaven. Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.


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