Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial
Sadness is a bad thing. But behind this bad thing, behind the pain, behind the trial it is hidden God`s blessing, it is hidden the rebirth, the recreation of the man, of the family. Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial. It seems to them that everything goes well and they forget about God. But God takes their child. Then this is followed by lamentations and cries and pains and all the rest. After all this it comes the grace of God and it covers them and the men find peace, they approach the Church, they come to confession, they come to the priest. Due to their child they go to the church. The pain makes them seek, makes them pray for his peace and pay liturgies.
The heart which was callous before and did not receive a thing now is melted by pain and receives openly the words of God. Think about a man in the vigor of youth. Diplomas, praises, health, everything nice. But when he is smitten down by a disease he begins to think in a different way. `Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.` I may die. And what is the use of all these? A man may approach him and give him a book saying: `Read this book and see what it says! He hears a word of God but this time he listens to it carefully. The pain have already prepared his heart and made it ready to receive the word of God.
And in this way it is achieved the recreation of the man. After he recovers he wakes up from the bed of suffering and from now on he lives his life more carefully not living anymore with the pride and conceit he had had.
Sickness and sadness are by excellence the medicine of the divine care necessary for bringing him close to God and for enhancing his virtue.
Job was the kindest man on earth, but God wanted to make him much more kinder. And he was honored from the moment he was put to test. He was a kind, pious man but without the trial he suffered, Job would have never been known. But from the moment he was tried and he fought and struggled and he was rewarded and got rich his glory began and this stretched until our times. His example is brilliant and strengthens any man who faces a trial. If he who was a saint was put to test, we who are sinners will be put to test even more. And the result was that the trial sanctified him more gave him more years to live and blessed him with doubled fortunes than those he had lost becoming a bright example over the ages for every grieving man who should follow this example, have a support on it, find his relief and say:
`The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.` (Job 1, 21).
He bends his head and says: `The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. And if He took my child isn’t He who has given it to me? He took him. Where is my child? In heavn? But what is he doing there? He rests…
Behind every trial hides the will of God and the use that in those times he might have not seen he will see in the course of time.
There are many parables of this kind. As it would be that of saint Andronicus and Athanasia. These two were married. Andronicus was a goldsmith and he had plenty of riches. With a part of what he earned he sustained his family, another part he gave it to the poor and the third part of his earning he gave it without interest to the people who had no money. He had two blessed daughters. But one day both of them died because of a disease. They buried them both in the same time. Athanasia the poor woman cried inconsolably over the tomb of her two daughters. Andronicus was crying too but after a time he went home. Only poor Athanasia remained there crying near the tomb. `My children`, `my children`. It was almost sunset when all of a sudden she saw a monk who said to her:
`Why are you crying, sister?`
`How not to cry father? I buried both my children, my angels. I put them into tomb and me and my husband remained alone. We have no comfort.`
`Your children are in heaven with the angels. They are in the bliss and joy of God and you stand here and cry? And you are a Christian.
`My children live indeed? Are they angels?`
`Of course that your children are angels.`
After that Andronicus and Athanasia went to live in the monastery and they sanctified themselves.
Source: Starets Ephrem Philotheos, Spiritual advice for regaining spiritual health and for our salvation, Orthodoxos Kypseli Publishing, Thessaloniki.