The Lord allows the enemy…

“The Lord allows the enemy to tempt us in order to prove us, in order to strengthen our spiritual powers in our struggle against the enemy, and so that we ourselves may see more clearly towards what our heart inclines, whether it inclines to patience, hope, and love and in general to virtue, or to irritability, incredulity, murmuring, blasphemy, malice, and despair. Therefore we must not be despondent, but must good-humouredly and patiently bear spiritual darkness that descends upon our soul, the fire that weakens and inclines us to impatience and malice, the affliction and oppression, knowing that all these are indispensable in the order of our spiritual life, that by these the Lord is proving us. Do not let us blaspheme against the true way—the way of holy faith and virtue—and do not let us prefer the evil way. We are free, and must strengthen ourselves by every means and with all our power in faith and virtue, unto the laying down of our life for the way of truth; and how can this be if we have no temptations?”
St. John of Kronstadt

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God has done all things for our benefit

“God has done all things for our benefit. We are guarded and taught by the angels; we are tempted by the demons so that we may be humbled and have recourse to God, thus being saved from self-elation and delivered from negligence . . . Thus God in His unutterable goodness has arranged all things in a marvellous way for us; and if you want to understand this and to be as you should, you must struggle to acquire the virtues, to be able to accept with gratitude everything that comes, whether it is good or whether it appears to be bad, and to remain undisturbed in all things.”
St. Peter of Damascus, The Philokalia, Vol. 1

Nothing Comes Without Effort

As we being the Nativity Fast, let us ponder on the words of St. Theophan the Recluse:

“May the Lord give you the blessing of a strong desire to stand inwardly before God. Seek and you will find. Seek God: such is the unalterable rule for all spiritual advancement. Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near, but it is only given to those who seek and work, and only to those seekers who, after putting all their own powers to the test, then cry out with all their heart: Lord, help us. So long as you hold on to even a little hope of achieving something by your own powers, the Lord does not interfere. It is as though He says: ‘You hope to succeed by yourself -very well, go on trying! But however long you try you will achieve nothing.’ May the Lord give you a contrite spirit, a humble and a contrite heart.”

God be with you.

It is a remarkable phenomenon…

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

“It is a remarkable phenomenon in nature that, if you put a plant into a large, wide pot or tub, it grows very much at the roots; they thicken, they give out many ramifications, but the tree itself does not grow much in height, and only yields few and small leaves and flowers. But if it is planted in a small pot, then the roots are small, but the plant itself grows rapidly in height and yields beautiful leaves and flowers (if it is the nature of the plant to produce flowers). Is it not the same with man? When he lives in full liberty, in abundance and prosperity, then he grows in body and does not grow in spirit, does not bring forth fruits–good works; whilst when he lives in straightness, in poverty, sickness, misfortune, and afflictions, in a word, when his animal nature is crushed, then he grows spiritually, bears flowers of virtue, ripens and brings forth rich fruits. This is why the path of those who love God is a narrow one.”

Comfort? Struggle!

“Do not fear the conflict, and do not flee from it: where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where there are no temptations for faithfulness and love, it is uncertain whether there is really any faithfulness and love for the Lord. Our faith, trust, and love are proved and revealed in adversities, that is, in difficult and grievous outward and inward circumstances, during sickness, sorrow, and privations.”
St. John of Kronstadt

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.”