Beliefnet
Sundar Singh (1889-1929) is sometimes described as India's most famous convert to Christianity. However, he never accepted the religion as such, but emphasized instead the life-changing starkness of Jesus' original teachings. Leaving a wealthy home at sixteen to live as a sadhu, or wandering holy man, Sundar Singh soon became the stuff of legends. This excerpt is the sixth and final in an ongoing series and is reprinted with permission of Plough Publishing.

If a newborn child does not cry out and scream, then it must be slapped until it does. No one has joy in slapping a child--only the longing that it makes full use of its lungs and draws in life-giving air. So in perfect love, God may strike us with blows and stings of pain so that the breath of prayer flows freely through the lungs of our souls. This is the only way we can become strong and fit for eternal life.

Look at the pearl. A pearl is a product of pain and suffering. Tormented by some foreign matter against its soft flesh, the oyster responds by embracing the irritant and transforming it into an object of great beauty. The creation of the pearl not only provides relief to the oyster but is also a source of wonder and pleasure to many others. But beware! The unique luster of the pearl can be easily destroyed. Ink or oils can contaminate and destroy its beauty. Pearls laid in ancient tombs often decay with the corpse of their owners; the dust of the pearls is then mingled with the dust of the dead.

Spiritual life--like the pearl--grows out of pain and suffering. And even when the pain has been transformed into a thing of beauty, the lustre of our spiritual lives can easily become contaminated and decay.

Thousands of years of heat and pressure come to bear on black carbon before it is transformed into a precious diamond. Even then, diamonds do not dazzle unless they have first been cut. When cut and polished, then the rays of the sun make them shine with wonderful colors. Scientists may manufacture artificial diamonds in laboratories, but careful examination exposes their inferiority. Likewise, we cannot attain spiritual perfection without passing through pain and suffering.

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