This Too Shall Pass

Video / Produced by The High Calling

In a lot of medieval paintings, the artist would paint a shadowy figure right at the edges of a depiction of a sumptuous feast. This was to remind those who were celebrating that, "Et in arcadia ego" —even in Arcadia (paradise), Death is there. This seems a bit gloomy, but the painters understood that celebration becomes even more important when you know it's not going to last forever. The same is true for suffering: we do not mourn like those without hope, even when we mourn.

Our faith is shaped by this dual awareness of suffering and celebration. Remembering that both our personal triumphs and our tribulations will pass away keeps our perspective straight; the phrase, "This, too, shall pass away" is true about almost everything we experience—except the love of God. That is where our hope lies.

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Transcript: Abraham Lincoln told the story of an Eastern monarch who commanded his wise men to create a sentence. This sentence would be cut in stone and always be in view. It must be true. It must apply in every situation and at all times. The wise men met and returned to the monarch with their sentence: "This, too, shall pass away."

This five-word statement does fit every situation. In moments of glory and triumph, it levels our sights. In our deepest grief, it lifts our vision.

This is Howard Butt, Jr., of Laity Lodge. You may have closed the deal of a lifetime. Or you may have just lost that deal by saying something stupid. Whatever it is: this too shall pass . . . in the high calling of our daily work.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matt. 24:35)