Friday, June 12, 2015

Afflictions come in order to bring us closer to God

My beloved brother in Christ, may the grace of our Lady Theotokos preserve you from everything which would soil your dear little soul. Amen. “Tribulations and necessities have found me, Thy commandments are my meditation.” (Ps. 118:143 ). Afflictions succeed one another; we need patience. 

By meditating on the divine law, we are enlightened as to how to bear them, why they come, and what purpose they have. They come in order to teach us to become bearers of hardship, practiced fighters, followers of Him Who was crucified for us, brothers of all the Saints who walked the thorny road of the Cross: the martyrs by martyrdom, the monastics by ascesis, the faithful by keeping the holy commandments and through the various trials caused by the world, the devil, and the flesh. 

No one has ever been saved in comfort and without trials. Thus it follows that if we also bear trials, we should rejoice, for thus walked all those who were saved. And since we want to be saved, too, there is no other road but afflictions! 

Afflictions come in order to bring us closer to God, for afflictions grieve and oppress the heart, softening and humbling it. And when it is humbled, God looks upon it: “A heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. (Ps. 50:17 ). “Upon whom shall I look, if not upon him who is humble and meek, and trembles at my words? (Is. 66:2 ). He who bears his sorrows with joy and knowledge will be freed from his sins and their penance. 

A spiritual character is also created in him: the person becomes merciful, humble, meek, etc. The one who does not have true knowledge of trials is distressed and grieved at a time when he should rejoice, for he walks the road of holy Golgotha and of the Saints. May the grace of God, which heals infirmities and makes up for deficiencies, help all of us to be patient in all things, that we be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. Amen.

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Counsels from the Holy Mountain
Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors