Every temptation, every sorrow, every demonic assault can prove to be of great benefit for us, if we are careful and patient. The invisible enemy (the devil) pounced on Job with fierce rage and malice. But did he harm him in the end? Not at all! On the contrary, he helped Job acquire greater holiness and more glory.
When we are alert and vigilant, the devil cannot harm us. Rather, he can unintentionally help us to increase in virtue. Observe what takes place when someone blows on a fire: initially, it seems as though he is blowing it out; ultimately, however, not only does he not put out the fire, but he actually intensifies it.
Without problems, without adversities, without illnesses, without sorrows, what would man do? He would indulge in pleasure and drunkenness, he would roll in the mire of sin, and he would completely forget about God and His holy commandments. Conversely, life’s fears, uncertainties, sorrows, and trials keep him attentive, serve as lessons of philosophy, and act as exercises for his soul.
Just as a goldsmith places gold in the furnace and lets it remain in the fire until it is purified, similarly, God allows our souls to remain in the furnace of hardships until they acquire purity.
If you have committed murder, adultery, or some other grievous (“mortal”) sin that precludes you from the Kingdom of Heaven, then you should be sorrowful and cry. If however, with the grace of God, you have done no such thing, why do you become distraught and grumble at the first sight of difficulty? God did not give us the feeling of sorrow to be used untimely and injudiciously, but when necessary and beneficial. We should be sorrowful not when others harm us, but when we harm others; not when we are wronged, but when we wrong others; not when we ourselves feel pain, but when we cause pain to others. This is what our Creator has ordered. We, however, do the opposite. We hurt others without the slightest remorse or feeling of guilt. But when others hurt us, we become upset, unhappy, and discouraged—sometimes we even feel like ending our lives.
We must understand once and for all: for the Christian, there are only two causes of sadness. The first is when he opposes God and acts contrary to His holy will; the second, when he sees his fellow man disregarding God’s will.
—St. John Chrysostomos