“Believing They’d Already Died”

Today, my students discuss suffering and loss in the context of Japanese haiku. Various writers suggest that we suffer so much because we’re so attached to certain outcomes. Releasing these expectations provides a coping mechanism that helps us enjoy life more.

A student raises his hand to tell us about his historical research about soldiers in wartime. He reports that “they went into war believing they’d already died. They were grateful for anything that happened to them that day because they weren’t expecting to be alive at all.”

They’d already surrendered their lives. They’d already assumed they would die, and that made them endure. They moved ahead without fear.

I think about this conversation all day long. I mull it over in my office and think of those soldiers on the walk across campus to my car. What must it feel like to surrender so deeply that anything that happens is a pure gift from heaven? What does it mean to receive what comes each day as a miracle because you expected nothing but death?

Enduring indeed. 

I remember Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  I’ve already died; anything that happens now is a pure gift and a pure miracle.

Did this make any sense at all? I love teaching students who bring up such great ideas!


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