“Nor yet canst thou kill me”

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Photo by Whitney Schlander

It’s Good Friday, and I’m reminded of John Donne’s sonnet, “Death, be not proud”: “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee/Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;”

Donne was a seventeenth-century poet and priest who also wrote in his Devotions that “affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction…”

Donne had his share of hard times–having endured religious persecution (he was a Catholic in Protestant England), poverty, chronic illness, and the death of several children before losing his wife too–so his words carry conviction.

Death and suffering make us human, Donne argues, and tribulation, our own as well as the suffering of others, drives us not to despair but leads us to make “[our] recourse to [our] God, who is our only security.”

On Good Friday, may we all make our recourse to God and not become defeated by the darkness we see in and around us. Like Donne, let’s say to death, in all its forms: “For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow/Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.”

When failure, hurt, pain, disappointment, or loss tempt us to doubt God’s goodness, may we believe God’s promises more: that our greatest pain can be the foundation for the greatest good and glory.

May we always know, despite what we see and feel, that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5


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