Archimandrite Sophrony Saharov
The path of the Christian is in the following way: at the beginning the man is drawn to God by His grace. After he had been drawn to God it begins his long trial. The freedom of man and his confidence in God are harshly put to test. At the beginning the requests addressed to God, either small or big, even the requests that are barely expressed, are usually fulfilled by God in a swift and wonderful way.
But when it comes the period of trial then everything changes and it seems that the sky shuts itself and becomes deaf to all requests. Everything is achieved with difficulty in the life of the passionate Christian. The behavior of the other people towards him gets worse, they stop honoring him. What they accept at others, they don’t accept at him, his work is almost always paid less than it should, his body is easily exposed to diseases. Nature, people, everything turns against him.
Even if his natural charisms are not lower that the charisms of the others, he doesn’t find favourable conditions to use them. Beside these, he suffers many attacks from the demonic powers and the climax is the unbearable grief caused by the feeling that he is abandoned by God. Then his suffering (πάθος) reaches its peak because the man is hurt on all the levels of his existence.
Does God abandon him? Is this possible? Instead of experiencing that he is getting closer to God, he gets the feeling that God is infinite, inaccessible, far away, beyond the astral world and all the calls addressed to Him are lost in the immensity of the astral space. His soul intensifies its inner cry towards God but he still doesn’t see any help or heed. Then everything becomes burdensome. Everything is achieved with great painstaking. Life fills with pain and the man starts feeling that he is hit by God’s curse and anger. But when all these trials would have passed then he’ll see God’s miraculous care that protected him mindfully in all the aspects of his life.
The millennial experience which is taught from generation to generation says that when God sees the faith this man’s soul has for Him, as He saw Job’s faith, will guide him through abysses to heights which are not accessible to others.
The more powerful is the faith and confidence of that man in God, the highest is the degree of his trials and the fullness of his experience, which can reach a great extent.
Then he is clearly shown that he reached the limits which cannot be passed over by man.