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God Sees the Truth, But Waits

I’ve been slowly working through Life Streams (Smith, J.B. and Graybeal, L.L.) with a friend. It is a study book that explores a number of streams of Christian practice, published by Renovaré (2010) and we’re approaching the end of it. Each session ends with some homework options and the one I picked from the chapter on the incarnational tradition was to read something by Solzhenitsyn, Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy. Each is a major Russian writer who wove Christian faith into their works. I ended up finding a collection of Russian short stories via Project Guterberg and a tale by Tolstoy called God Sees the Truth, But Waits.

These Russians had a tendency to write fat books long before it became de rigueur but this story is blessedly short and free to read (hurrah for the wonderful Project Gutenberg, which continues to make public domain works available online).

The protagonist, Aksionov, is falsely accused of a crime and sent to a labour camp. Even his wife seems to doubt his innocence so he commits himself to God, who he knows saw the truth. Alas for Aksionov, God seems to remain silent on the matter. It won’t take you long to read the story so I will avoid spoilers but to my eyes — and I suspect to Tolstoy’s — God does appear to perform a slow but deep work of grace. It is far from what Aksionov might once have asked for but reminds me of what the (far less saintly) Rolling Stones once sang: “you can’t always get what you want but… sometimes you might just get what you need.”

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