Our End, According to Dostoyevsky

From The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880):

[The ‘Lady of Little Faith’:] “‘Oh no no, God won’t take you from us, you’re going to live for a long, long time yet,’ the mother exclaimed. ‘And anyway, what illness can you have? You look so full of health and gaiety and happiness.’

[A frail, aging priest named Zosima:] ‘Today I feel unusually improved, but I know from past experience that it will only last a moment. I now understand my illness without error. But if I seem to you so full of gaiety, there is no way that you could ever delight me so much as to make such an observation. For human beings were created for happiness, and whoever is completely happy is also worthy of saying to himself, ‘I have fulfilled the behest of God upon this earth.’ All the righteous, all the saints and all the holy martyrs were every one of them happy.'”

The old and wise Elder Zosima can mean only one of two possible things in his response to the Lady of Little Faith. He may believe that all the saints and all those who have died for their faith in Christ throughout all of history were so abundantly blessed with wordly comforts and riches that they were without exception happy. But Zosima is far too wise to believe this. Instead, Zosima understands that the deepest, most satisfying, only lasting happiness available to any and every human being is the happiness that flows from knowing deeply, and being deeply loved by, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, delighting in the Son and treasuring Him above all things. This is where our hearts find rest and peace. This is what all the saints and holy martyrs have possessed.


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