The Works of God

The works of God are wondrous and unfathomable for our darkened minds, but as much as possible, we see from Scripture and our personal experience that the Lord sends sicknesses, sorrows, deprivation, droughts, wars, and revolutions either as punishment for our sins; or in anticipation, so that we do not fall into sins; or sometimes to test our faith. And so, we must bow in reverence before His all-wise Providence and give thanks for His ineffable mercy towards us.

Saint Macarius of Optina

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If God Sees That the Intellect…

“If God sees that the intellect (heart/nous) has entirely submitted to Him and puts its hope in Him alone. He strengthens it, saying: ‘Have no fear Jacob my son, my little Israel’ (Isa. 41:14), and: ‘Have no fear: for I have delivered you, I have called you by My name; you are Mine. If you pass through water, I shall be with you, and the rivers will not drown you. If you go through fire, you will not be burnt, and the names will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, who saves you’ (cf. Isa. 43:1-3.).”
St. Isaiah the Solitary (Philokalia Vol. 1)

St. Seraphim on Despair

“Just as the Lord is solicitous about our salvation, so too the murder of men, the devil, strives to lead a man into despair.

A lofty and sound soul does not despair over misfortunes, of whatever sort they may be. Our life is as it were a house of temptations and trials; but we will not renounce the Lord for as long as He allows the tempter to remain with us and for as long as we must wait to be revived through patience and secure passionless!

Judas the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy, seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a burning heart, and the enemy, seeing these tears, his eyes scorched as by fire, fled far form him wailing in pain.

And so brothers, St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).

St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”

When sick…

Continuing Quotes from St. John of Kronstadt-

“When owing to sickness, proceeding from various causes, you feel unwell and indisposed, and when in this condition your prayer is cold, heavy, filled with despondency and even despair, do not be disheartened or despairing, for the Lord knows your sick and painful condition. Struggle against your infirmity, pray as much as you have strength to, and the Lord will not despise the infirmity of your flesh and spirit.”

Intent; Never give up!

“In the spiritual life we can do nothing worthy without repentance, but the Lord has much mercy on us because of our intentions. He who compels himself and holds on to repentance until the end, even if he sins is saved because he compelled himself, for the Lord promised this in the Gospel.” St. Mark the Ascetic

“Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism? Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him? Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbor? Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven? We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle. For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue.” St. Nektarios of Aegina

“…but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Mt. 10:22

My friends, God knows our hearts. He knows when we truly, deep down mean to do well but cannot. I tell people all the time: ” If you can, then you are commanded to do so. If you cannot then God -who is no ‘black and white’ genie- knows your heart, your intent, and is merciful. But if you certainly can, but will not, then the judgement is on you.

Addicts struggle with addiction their whole lives, and most of us who are addicted to sin struggle with the same sins forever. We cannot let the tenacity of the sin get us down. The fact that we are struglling is a good thing. We learn greatly by failure, the ups and downs, and it makes us stronger if we let it. God is there in those times, giving us the grace to become stronger through our weaknesses. And so we should never look at our failures as the end, as though we were completely doomed because of them. They are our cross, and they are what make us Christians.

Worry

We all worry. We all say we have faith that God will provide, yet when it comes time to ‘put our money where our mouth is’, we fall short. No?

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

“If you believe that God makes provision for you, why are you anxious and concerned about temporal matters and the needs of your flesh? But if you do not believe that God makes provision for you, and for this reason you are at pains to provide for your needs apart from Him, you are the most miserable of all men. Why even go on living? ‘Cast thy care upon the Lord’ (Psalm 54:23) and you will never be afraid of any terror that overtakes you (cf. Proverbs 3:25). Insofar as you have dedicated yourself to God, you may go through life with peace of mind.” ~Abba Isaiah, from The Evergetinos

Abba Silouan said: “I am a servant, and my Lord said to me: ‘Do my work, and I will nourish you, but do not inquire how.’ Therefore, if I work I am nourished by my wages, that is, by the mercy of God.” ~ from the Evergetinos