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agios_chrysostomosDifficulties and temptations are not reasons for us to be sad, but rather occasions for us to be happy and joyful. God sends us sorrows sensibly and judiciously. A guitar player does not wind the guitar strings excessively so they do not snap, but he also does not leave them too loose either because they will cease to produce the correct sound. Similarly, God does not allow us to live in a steady state of well-being or with continuous sorrows. He grants us times of peace and serenity in order to afford us rest and relief; however, He also sends us difficulties and sorrows periodically (sometimes more frequently, other times less frequently). In certain instances, He even takes a long time to deliver us from our hardships. Why? So that we think of Him and draw near to Him unceasingly; so that we seek refuge in Him and ask for His help. This is why He allows pain, illnesses, natural disasters, famine, and all other calamities to arise. In this manner, we remain close to God and we gain our salvation. On account of these various temporary sufferings, we inherit eternal life.

Furthermore, God’s love regulates not only the length and duration of the sorrows but also their intensity. Athletic instructors do not train all wrestlers identically. They match up weak wrestlers with easy opponents, whereas, they make powerful and courageous wrestlers contend with tough rivals. Similarly, God allows each one of us to be faced with temptations analogous to our strength. As the Apostle Paul states, the temptations we encounter are such that we can handle: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Through these various methods, the Lord cures and saves our souls; this is why we must thank Him and glorify Him.

Keeping all these things in mind, my dear brothers, let us courageously endure the sorrows that find us; because God is allowing them for our own benefit. When we are hit by hardships and calamities, let’s not be distraught; let’s not be faint-hearted; let us not complain and grumble. Rather, let us accept them as heavenly gifts, as divine blessings, and let us thank and praise the Lord. In this manner, we will remain peaceful and content throughout the duration of our brief earthly life, and we will also go on to enjoy the incorrupt goods and riches in the next eternal life, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

—St. John Chrysostom

St Maximos the Hut-Burner