Seneca on Unshakable People

The famed, first-century Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, popularly known as just Seneca, shared some words about human nature and tough times that are still as pertinent today as when he first spoke them.

“Prosperity shows a man but one part of human nature. Nobody knows what such a man is good for; neither in truth does he understand himself for want of experiment. Temporal happiness is for weak and vulgar minds; but the subduing of public terrors is a work that is reserved for more generous spirits. Calamity is the touchstone of a brave mind, that resolves to live and die free, and master of itself. The combatant brings no mettle into the field, that was never bettered; he that has lost blood, and yet keeps his stomach; he that has been under his enemy, and worsted, and yet comes on again, and gathers heart from his misfortunes—that is the man of hope and courage.”

Seneca was essentially saying that the true quality and worth of our character is most clearly revealed during times of trial and misfortune. His words are similar to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Amid today’s challenge and controversy, let’s embrace those sage quotations and make them descriptive of us. Let’s embrace a Churchillian determination to never give up and to ever display God’s unshakable spirit in our shakable times.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

7 thoughts on “Seneca on Unshakable People

  1. We never really know who we are and what we are capable of until the fire burns close enough to make us sweat.

  2. This brings back memories of a college philosophy prof I had years ago. He summed up character this way…. “when the shooting starts, you’ll know who You can depend on”.

  3. All of the mishaps in life, that have caused cracks in our clay pots, allows for the light that is within us to shine through.


  4. Great verse of the day and times. Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies and from those who pursue me.

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