Affliction is an instrument, a tool, which God holds in His hand. He alone uses it as His infinite wisdom dictates. He uses it differently for each person, according to the need of each. Affliction in its various forms purifies and sanctifies the one who accepts it with wisdom and knowledge. That is, each affliction a Christian has is a divine visitation for his salvation, sent by the most sweet right hand of our heavenly Father, even though our nature dislikes such things, just as bitter medicines are unpleasant to the sick. Besides, if we had no afflictions, certainly we would have the fate of Lucifer. For he, at the height of glory and repose, forgot the greatness of God and his own puniness and weakness, and said, “I shall set my throne upon the clouds, and I shall be like the Highest.” (cf. Is. 14:13 ).
After he thought these things, God cast him down; the former dawning star and most luminous angel became a demon, Satan, the devil, the filthiest of God’s creatures, not by nature—for God made everything very good—but by his own choice to be evil and rebellious. The devil sows within families grumbling, dislike, envy,obstinacy, etc., and thus in many families there is one person who will disturb their peace, serenity, and joy. This evil seed was not absent even from the midst of the sacred family of the Lord, which He had created on earth for the coming salvation—that is, in the midst of His sacred disciples: Judas Iscariot, a God-slaying seed!
The devil sows his seed in the midst of the wheat; even in the synodias of monastics such people exist. Not that the person himself is evil, but with his weaknesses of grumbling, envy, etc., he becomes an instrument of the devil that disturbs the peace and quiet of the others.
All these things bear witness to the fact that we are exiles from our true fatherland and are now in the reformatories where the discipline of the Lord is practiced. And all who accept the discipline are led back into the heavenly paternal inheritance and recover their lost sonship, as ones worthy to receive God as their inheritance.
But all who remain undisciplined, like me, and do not acknowledge the discipline, but instead through their works are shown to be illegitimate, are driven away and condemned as unworthy of the adoption to which the discipline of the Lord aimed. May our good God and Father count us worthy to be among the successful who have received adoption as sons, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Counsels from the Holy Mountain
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors