Allan Kardec

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9. It is not to be thought, however, that all suffering in this world denotes the existence of a determined shortcoming. Many times it is simply an ordeal requested by the Spirit, which will help it towards purification and active progress. So atonement is always a test, but a test is not always an atonement. Tests and atonements though, are always signs of a relative inferiority, as that which is perfect needs no testing. Nevertheless, it is possible that a Spirit, having reached a certain degree of elevation and being desirous of further progress, may request a mission or task to perform by means of which he or she will be more or less compensated, depending on whether or not they are victorious, and according to the difficulty of the requested test. These then are those people who have naturally good instincts, whose souls are elevated and who possess inborn sentiments. They apparently bring nothing from their past existences and who despite great torments, suffer with true Christian resignation, asking only that God help them to support their trials without complaining. On the other hand, we may consider as atonements those afflictions which provoke complaint and which cause revolt against God.

Beyond doubt the suffering which does not provoke complaint can also be considered as atonement. But this indicates it was voluntarily sought rather than imposed. This constitutes a test of our strength of resolution, which in itself is a sign of progress.

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