I walked up to the base of the Fortress of God’s Goodness and, through sobs and tears, began to systemically check its base for a sign of weakness. I searched for a crack or a crumble or an imperfection of any kind, but could find no indication of flaw or frailty. The base of the Fortress seemed enormous, extending far to both my left and right in a perfect concrete arc. Above me, the summit of the cylinder stretched into the clouds, beyond my sight. For a moment I was awestruck at its magnitude. I could not fathom its size. The fortress seemed impenetrable. Desperate, I threw my body against it and beat it with my fists, but it didn’t budge. It scarcely could have perceived my wailing, flailing presence; as though a silo could perceive an ant hurling itself against its base.
Nevertheless, I kicked and beat the wall with all my strength. I cursed it and insulted it and hurled my body against it. Knowing somehow that there was nothing to find, I nonetheless walked the entire circumference of the citadel searching for a symptom of its fragility and at last, when I had no more strength to carry on and no more tears to cry, I sat down on the dusty ground, dotted with golden desert flowers to whimper quietly and rub my swollen eyes.
There was no weakness. The Fortress of God’s Goodness was as solid as something could be. It was unyielding to my protests in any way. I found that, despite my suffering, I could make no accusation against it. And I came to the final conclusion that if it would be so completely unyielding to me, I, then, must be yielded to it.
So I admitted it. The Fortress of God’s Goodness was stronger than I. My experiences were not, as I so wanted to believe, indicative of its legitimacy. I had to embrace that God was resolutely and entirely good and that I was made to suffer at the same time. In fact, I was forced to conclude that my suffering did not detract from His goodness in any way.
I had to embrace that God was resolutely and entirely good and that I was made to suffer at the same time.
I got up then, dusted myself off, and walked home. My spirits were higher at this time, believing then that I had passed the test and, since I had passed it and surrendered to His nature, my sufferings would certainly be ended. I was surprised to find then that the storm blazed on. My sufferings neither halted nor subsided in any way, rather—they increased. I cried out for them to be stopped, but they were not. I commanded the storm to be calm, but it was not. And in the middle of the desert tempest of pain and disappointment by which I felt mercilessly scorched and choked, I heard a small voice call to me.
“Testify,” it said. Everything in me wanted again to cry and to kick and to scream and to fight the powerlessness that overcame me, but I remembered again that it was the Fortress of God’s Goodness that would be unyielding to my circumstances, not my circumstances to the Fortress. So I tore out my broken will and surrendered it.
“You are perfectly good,” I said, through sobs. “I can make no accusation against You.”
I peered back up at the Fortress, expecting an answer of sorts, expecting the small voice to speak to me again. But for that time, the Fortress of God’s Goodness simply remained and did so silently.