Asceticism, Cross, Discernment, Elder Ephraim of Arizona, Elder Joseph the Cave-Dweller, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, mental health, New Martyr Archbishop John of Riga, Patience, Podvig, Purification, St. John Chrysostom, Temptations
If we carefully considered and examined the weight of the Lord’s Cross, our own cross would seem minute and light as a feather. The Lord was hanging on the Cross completely naked and without any help from anyone. This is why He voiced, “My God, My God, why hath Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46). We, on the other hand, are neither naked nor nailed to and hanging from such a cross. On the contrary, we receive considerable consolation from our friends and relatives during difficult moments. Additionally, God has promised to be next to us in times of sorrow, and with His help we can endure any hardship.
How pathetic we are! Our true God endured various tortures and suffered such a cruel death on account of our sins. We insignificant and wretched sinners, on the other hand, cannot tolerate even the slightest pain, which our good Lord sends for our own benefit and correction. Oh, how foolish it is for us to seek Christ in comfort and pleasure!
Christ prayed for them who crucified Him: “Forgive them, O Father, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34), whereas we do not want to forgive anyone who hurts us even a bit. The good thief confessed Christ while he was on the cross, and we ungrateful sinners ridicule Him along with the evil thief saying, “If You are the Son of God, save Yourself and us” (Lk. 23:39). In times of difficulty we deny Him by contending, “If You are God, deliver us from our cross, and we will believe in You (Mt. 27:43). You should allow ungodly and evil people to suffer, not us. We have done nothing wrong…”
Oh, how unrighteous and insensitive we are! We sit back and allow a thief to surpass us in the faith! A condemned criminal in a state of such harsh suffering and punishment was able to understand better than us the benefit of sorrows! We should mimic the good thief and confess Christ during every sorrow and hardship—even bitter death itself—, welcoming difficulties not as remorseful and repentant criminals but as true Christians and genuine children of God.
If the Lord entered into the glory and bliss (which He as the rightful owner was always entitled to) after first suffering and enduring His Passion (cf. Hb. 12:2), how much more fitting is it for His servants to suffer in order to inherit the Kingdom that does not belong to them? How is it possible for us slaves to have it easier than our Master, or as students to be greater than our Teacher? Christ suffered for us, and we do not want to suffer in order to save our own soul? The Son of God chose to ascend to the Father through scorn and humiliation, and we worthless worms desire recognition and praise?
My dear brothers, when we experience difficulties and sorrows, let us not only endure them patiently without complaining, but let us rejoice—because, indeed, “The sufferings of this present life are not worthy of and cannot be compared to the future glory that will be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).
—from the book The Salvation of Sinners