May the love of our heavenly Father be with your souls, so that being invigorated by it you may bear the fruit of obedience to His life-giving commandments.
“Those who desire to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12 ). Since you follow the Savior Christ through your devotion to the angelic way of life, your greatest duty is to bear all suffering, whether it comes from nature, indolence, sins, or people. Since we desire to live a Christ-like life, we are obligated to submit to God’s will because all things come from God. And since they are from God-and thus are the divine will-the heavenly Father commands them. Shall we not obey? Shall we not cry out with the blessed Job, “As it seemed good to the Lord, so it has come to pass. Blessed be the name of the Lord”? (Job 1:21 ).
Through patience and thanksgiving to God, then, we show obedience to the divine will. Won’t the obedient one be counted worthy to acquire even here eternal life in himself? Yes, he will live unto the ages of ages! Therefore, let us struggle; let us make our souls keen by working them over the whetstone of patience, in order to carry out a work pleasing to God. Afflictions, illnesses, distresses, trials-none of these will separate us from the love of Christ. For we have already been taught that narrow and difficult is the way which leads those who walk along it into the life without sorrow. (vid. Mt. 7:14 ). Thorns and thistles are placed to the right and left along the way; therefore, we need much caution. Along the difficult way-that is, in the trial of sickness and so forth-the thorn of doubt, of impatience, of cowardice comes to rend the garment of the soul. What is needed, therefore, is to pull out this thorn through faith, hope, and patience, having Jesus Christ as a model.
Throughout His life on earth He had many afflictions, and His all-holy soul was oppressed by many thorns, and so He exclaimed, “In your patience you will gain your souls.” (Lk. 21:19 ).
Through illnesses and through grievous things in general, God bestows gifts upon us as a Father; for He seeks ways to impart His holiness: “What son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb. 12:7-8 ). Oh!
Whenever we suffer, then it becomes manifest that we are children of God. And who would not like to be a child of God? Therefore, if you want to be a child of God, endure the afflictions and trials sent by God with thanksgiving, faith, and hope. Even trials coming from people are really sent from God so that we may acquire tolerance, forbearance, compassion, and patience, for all these are divine characteristics, as the Lord says to us: “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Mt.5:45 ). For this reason we are obliged to love all people.
May no trace of hatred or evil be found in our souls, so that we may be called children of God. The sufferings of our whole life are not worthy to be compared with the inconceivable good things that God has prepared for those souls which carry their cross, whether it comes from the devil, other people, or one’s own nature. Because whatever passion or weakness may fight us, when we fight back against it, it causes us to be counted worthy of the blessing: “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life.” (Jas. 1:12 ).
For this reason, my child, endure everything, for a crown is being woven invisibly for the head of each one of us. Winter is bitter, but paradise is sweet. Endure the frost of trials, that your feet may joyfully dance in heaven.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona