Monday, March 16, 2015

Reasons to weep, or be glad

If the whole of your life has passed smoothly and without care, weep for yourself. For both the Gospel and human experience assert with one voice that no one has, without great sufferings and trials, left behind him any great work on earth or been glorified in heaven. If your earthly road has been bathed in sweat and tears for the attaining of righteousness and truth, rejoice and be glad, for your reward will indeed be great in heaven. Never entertain the foolish thought that God has forsaken you. God knows exactly how much you can bear, and measures your sufferings and trials accordingly.

'When men know,' says St. Nil Sorsky, 'how much weight a horse can carry, or a donkey or a camel, and load them according to their strength; when a potter knows how long to leave the clay in the kiln for it to be neither shattered nor under-cooked, how could God not know how much temptation a soul can bear to make it ready and fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven?'

Prologue from Ochrid, July 4

I want to append to this quote some words of encouragement that I wrote to a young brother who is suffering the pain of family problems that are outside his control. After I wrote him these words, I received the quote from my dear friend, Presbytera Candace, and I thought, ‘How faithful God is, how merciful to us in our afflictions, taking such pains to reach us from every angle.’ The quote with which I end my words to my young friend is another one sent me by Presbytera. Little does she know how God uses her email ministry to reach His people.

Just when you think it can't get any worse… it does!
God must really want you hard, young brother, to be leading you at so youthful a chronological age to the very mouth of She‘ol.
When you follow Jesus, He can walk anywhere, and often He does.

Places you'd never dream of going, places you didn't even think existed.
Thinking inside the box, as we're trained to do, even by our churchly mentors, we don't suspect that even the jargon in which we've been taught to think will be so ruthlessly inadequate to help us through our earthly struggle.

Beyond thinking about them (because we can't always trust our thoughts), beyond the feelings that bombard us (we already know they can't be trusted), we still must live amidst the unbelievable chaos of our family members and others around us.

The necessity to live
when everything around us speaks, promises, even desires death.

The necessity to die
when we've been taught that ‘everything is going to work out,’ that ‘all will be well.’

We who follow Jesus are called to live in a way that only He could live, yet He does live in us that same life.

Finally, I want to share something that a modern Orthodox church father wrote…

If we abandon our own desires and opinions, and endeavor to fulfill God's wishes and understanding, we will save ourselves, no matter what our position, no matter what our circumstance. But, if we cling to our own desires and opinions, neither position nor circumstance will be of help. Even in Paradise, Eve transgressed God's commandment, and life with the Savior Himself brought the unfortunate Judas no good. As we read in the Holy Gospels, we require patience and an inclination to pious living.

— Fr Ambrose of Optina monastery, Russia

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