Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial
Grieving is a bad thing. Behind this bad thing, behind the pain, behind the grief, behind the trial is hidden the blessing of God, is hidden the rebirth, the recreation of man, of the family. Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial. When they have the impression that everything goes all right they forget about God. But God takes their child. Then you see sobs, pain, cries and all the rest. After all these the grace of God comes and adumbrates them and the people find their peace, get close to the Church, come for confession, approach the priest. Because of their child they go to the church. Their pain makes them seek, pray for his peace, pay for liturgies.
The heart that was petrified before and did not receive anything now softened by pain, becomes receiver of the words of God. Think about a man in full youth. Diplomas, praises, health, everything going quite nicely. But when he falls ill, he starts to think in a different way.
Vanities of vanity, all is vanity. I may die. So what is the use of all these? A man approaches him and gives him a book saying: `Read this book and see what it says.`
Then he hears a word from God but this time he listens to it carefully. The pain had already prepared his heart and made it be ready for receiving the word of God. And thus is made the recreation of man. Then after he recovers, he gets up from the bed of his pain and from this moment on he lives his life carefully, without the pride and false impression he had about himself.
Sickness and pain are par excellence the medicine of the divine care, necessary for bringing the man close to Him and for increasing his virtue.
Job was the best man on earth but God wanted to make him even better. And he was glorified when he was tried. He was a kind, pious man but without the trial he suffered, Job would not have been known. But from the moment he was tried and he struggled and strived and got his wreath and enriched himself from that moment on his glory began and spread until today. His example is brilliant and strengthens any man who is facing a trial. If he, being a saint, was tried, we who are sinners will be tried even more. And the result was that the trial sanctified him more, gave him more years to live and blessed him with doubled and tripled goods from those he had lost, becoming a bright example over time for each grieving man who has to follow his example, find support and ease in it and say: As God willed, so He did. May His name be blessed (Job 1, 21) He bends his head and says: God gave, God took away. And if He took my child, didn’t He give him to me? He took him. Where is my child? In heaven? But what does he do there? He rests in peace…
Behind each trial is hidden the will of God and the benefit – he might not see right now – but he will come to know it in time.
There are many examples of this kind. As that one of saints Andronic and Athanasia. These two were married. Andronic was a goldsmith and had a lot of wealth. With a part of what he earned he provided for his family, he gave a part to the poor and the third part from his earning he gave it without interest to the people who did not have money. He had two blessed daughters. But one day they both died because of a sickness. They buried both of them in the same time. Athanasia, the poor woman, was crying unconsoled over the tomb of her two daughters. Andronic was crying too but after a time he went home. Poor Athanasia remained there crying near the tomb. It was about sunset when she saw a monk coming and he said to her:
`Why are you crying sister?`
`How not to cry, father?` `I buried both my daughters, my little angels.` `I put them in the tomb and we, me and my husband remained alone. We have no comfort.
`Your children are in heaven with the angels.` `They are in the happiness and joy of God and you stay and cry?“ And you are a Christian.`
`Is it true that my children are living?“ Are they angels?`
`Sure, your children are angels.`
After that Athanasia and Andronic went to the monastery and followed the monachal life and sanctified themselves.
Source: starets Ephrem Philoteos, Spiritual advice for acquiring our spiritual health and salvation Orthodox Kypseli Publishing House Thessaloniki