It often happens in our lives to get in the oven of trials and troubles. Either because of us, or because of the unrevealed mystery of God’s kindness Who let them occur out of oikonomia for our spiritual benefit. Saint Isaac the Syrian said: ”Trials are the honor soul receives from the magnificence of God.” Thus ”the strait and narrow path” is the path of the saints, the path they willingly walked for proving their ardent love for the most merciful God.
Therefore why the Christian of nowadays suffers, frets, fears and is sickened only at the thought of facing the temptations and tribulations of life? The spirit of our times characterized by easiness and fastness plays an important role.The spirit of self-love and of love for the body.
Nowadays man strives with all his strength for diminishing as much as possible, if not to eliminate completely, the painstaking from his life. Facility and speed tends to become the goal in itself of our existence. This trend caused for the actual generations a drowsiness and idleness that starts from our physical powers and extends to the spiritual powers as well. Why hermits willingly torment their bodies with prostrations, services, fasting, sufferings and so many kinds of struggles. The body looks for its needs, but they strive with it and tame its demands – that for food by fasting, that for rest by ascesis, that for care with neglect. While the man of nowadays looks exactly for the opposites: facilities, rest, good living, good food, sleep and rebellion, the perfect relaxation of the body. It is important to mention that according to the teaching of the Church Fathers the body is our enemy’s best friend. It is the rope by which man is handled, the nest of passions. Thus someone rightly wonders: how is it possible for the modern spirit of idleness to get along with the hardships and the endurance of the afflictions and trials of life in Christ, which is the prerequisite condition for fighting against passions. At this point many are deluding themselves, accepting the thought that tells them there is a conciliatory solution. The only solution is the urge the Lord himself gives us: ”Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark, 8:34) Here God does not speak metaphorically and does not leave place for interpretations. These are thoughts and inducements of the Evil one, who tries to keep us in a state of physical and spiritual drowsiness that dominates us. But why is pain necessary in our life? Christ is love and happiness. Why does He allow hardships? Our Lord is an exquisite educator who know the dose and type of medicine necessary for our sick soul. He never let them exceed the limits of our powers, as long as He knows us better than we do ourselves. Because He knows the tumor of our selfishness and of our excessive love for the body, He uses with us as surgical methods the pain and affliction that are a bitter but strong antidote. Pain and affliction steel the soul, waking it from lethargy and strengthening it. They awaken the spiritual powers we have but ignore. Not a few are those who confess that in hardships came to know their limits. In the same time it happens something else mysteriously, without acknowledging it on the spot. We strengthen our faith in God’s providence and love. We learn not to trust in our selfish powers and resources. But we entrust everything to God and wipe out a lot of passions. Stress, fear, pride, vanity, love for material things and vanities, greed and all the others. We learn to love the highest virtue, humility. The Apostle of the gentiles said: ”If it behooves me to boast, I shall boast with my sufferings.” Thus, little by little, through afflictions and trials, we follow our Lord Jesus Christ, we sanctify ourselves, we purify ourselves of our passions. At the same time, when we acknowledge this beneficence, we learn to endure new and even willingly assumed physical and spiritual afflictions. Thus we understand the word that says: ”By your patient endurance you will gain your souls.”1 In this way the soul stops being tempted by evil and earnestly starts to seek for good. He opens widely its door so that its bridegroom may enter. Let the divine grace ”that heals all weaknesses and fills everything is missing” enter your soul. For this reason saint Paisios said that for Christians trials mean joy. Through them is revealed God’s love for us and also our love for Him. Thus instead of protesting, revolting and complaining even about the slightest eventuality of a trial, let us understand that behind it hides God’s love. In this way we will lift our cross with more ease, for we know it would be for our own good. Cause after storm comes the heavenly sun.
Therefore hit the enemy in the chest and withstand his attacks – any kind of temptations – with the firm belief in the boundless mercy of God, being armed with the weapons of prayer and watchfulness. In this way you will soon see the fear and impotence of his wile. And you will receive the crown of victory from the Righteous Judge. This is the life of the Christian strugglers, the life in Christ, full of afflictions and trials, leading us to the purification of passions, to the union with Jesus Christ and to the entry in His heavenly Kingdom! Amen.
”Rejoice always, in everything give thanks, pray without ceasing!”