Orthodox River

The Mystery of Pain

Behold and think

God allows it, brethren, when you have some kind of problem, some pain, some difficulty. When you encounter trials that plumb the depth of your existence. When this occurs, it is a blessing. It is God’s visitation to you. God is saying to you: “Here I am. Behold and think. Turn around and look at me. Don’t escape into your fabricated reality. I have something to give you. What do I have to give you? My very own self! Yes, I want to give you the whole of my grace and, through my grace, my very own self and I want to make you god. I want to make you what I am myself, because I love you, I want you, because you are my creation and for you I have done everything and do everything.”

What man goes through is God’s visitation, however he cannot see it this way. He thinks that he can’t bear it, he thinks that the pain is overwhelming, that the tribulations are many and the hardship too big and says: “What can I do? I can’t bear this.” Yet, this is not our true reality.

The very fact that you are hurting, that you are under this pressure and pushed to your limits, the very fact that you are hurting inside, the very fact that things are happening in such a way that there is no hope, no way out nor any support or consolation for you. These facts, I repeat, all that is happening, are not an indication but proof, my brethren, that God is present, that God is touching you, that God is preoccupied with you. That He sees you, he knows you, He understands you and wants to give you his mercy. Hang in there, show a little patience, let yourself fall into the hands of God and lean on God a little! Why does this process hurt so much? Why do you feel so deeply wounded, so utterly disheartened? Why do you feel like you are drowning? Why does the thought you are losing yourself become so intense? All these thoughts or reactions occur for this reason. You have resistance within yourself.

And this is how this resistance works: let’s say that there is a fortress, a castle, which an enemy attacks. The more the person inside the castle resists, the more the attacker collects his powers, the more he intensifies his attacks to crush the castle; to break walls, doors and to enter within the gates and siege the castle.

If there is a grain of truth in the natural example of a castle under siege, there is metaphorical truth to be understood, also, which illustrates the workings between God and the soul. This occurs whether a person understands it or not. There is no excuse concerning a lack of understanding; in fact, man does not want to understand this, because deep down within a person, their soul, their egoism, their self satisfaction and in general a persons autonomy from God, all resemble a fortress. All these parts of people comprise to make up fortified fortress, which refuses to surrender.

And while you are experiencing all this, which, one way or another God allows to happen to those who are Christians. What happens with other people is another story altogether, but what happens for Christians is precisely this: the doors need to break, for the road to open and the grace of God to enter. In this you resist and say: “I can’t! I can’t!”

You say, “I can’t?” However it would be so much the better to surrender to God. To say “yes” to God. Then you will experience a miracle and not only will the pain ease up, not only will it become lighter but little by little, as you begin to ponder over these things, you get to know yourself a little. This is a sign of contrition, as your feet get set upon a new path, your life encounters humility and a discovery occurs within you concerning who you really are. Somehow with your spiritual eyes open and you will feel the whole energy of the grace of God within you. Then as this happens to you, it grows sweeter, it becomes a heavenly encounter, it becomes a deep experience of the grace of God, the caress of God, His touch, God’s sweetness towards you. During this God will hover over you and His love will be manifestly present. During this time you will not feel as if God wants to humiliate you or expose you or devastate you, as is the case with the mighty authorities or the powerful, which deign to help the weak on one hand but do so with an intention of humiliating them also. This is not the way of God.

I’m under God’s protection

Let me repeat as I strongly sense it and as I am compelled to say it: “this is how things occur, while God’s blessing and grace come, when God comes, the Lord is incarnated, in us. In this way, He suffers for every one of us. All this occurs in order for you to be saved. This is a mystery beyond our understanding and occurs even when we don’t intend to understand it.”

The danger for us then, is to remain, as we always have been, where Christ does not reign inside you. That the excellence of His grace, that sheds light on everything and causes us to see all things differently, does not have its work within us. Instead, the old man reigns, the fall reigns. Consequently your whole situation takes you endless rabbit trails and you moan and suffer and undergo hardship, all for no benefit.

Instead, humble yourself and say to God: “I am in Your hands. I am under Your Providence. It is impossible for you to be wrong. You have not lost control of my life and it has not slipped Your mind. It seems like He needs to prune me. It looks as if I need to struggle a bit. It looks like I need this tribulation and that tribulation, and I need all these things that are happening to me.” If you can say this, you see everything differently. So, show a little patience, and place yourself under God’s providence, submit yourself to the understanding that God is present, that he sees, and he knows all. That he is God of love and whatever he does, he will do with your benefit in mind. It is difficult to understand this and we don’t miss the hints which do occur for us. In the end, remember, the sooner you humble yourself, the sooner you surrender, the sooner you say, “yes” to God, the quicker, not only the solution comes and the problem is sorted out, but also the sooner the heavenly sweetness will reach you.

Looking deeply into the mystery of pain

With great pain comes great grace from God. Deep pain also means deep love from God. Our great pain means that God leads us to exactly where our hearts desire to be.

Enlargement of Heart

“When the Lord doesn’t say a single word, then, He is going to say everything”

Sadness comes and eats at man; it boxes man into a tight corner. And then God intervenes, as a result, not only is sadness dispelled but the heart is enlarged. The whole being of man is enlarged. God is revealed. The mysteries of God are revealed. This is a great reality yet often it is hidden from man, because of his narrow heartedness and self love.

In spite of persistent and weighty trials, we believe that God is going to intervene. In spite of heaven being silent we believe that God is listening. This is the beginning of the enlargement of our hearts. However one should understand the benefit of painful trials.

“My heart is torn apart…”

It tears me apart, every time I speak with a person in pain. My heart is crushed. This occurs in a good sense and I would have been bothered by this in countless ways, if I hadn’t been hurt myself, if I hadn’t empathised with the pain of this person. Hurting and empathising in such a way is a good thing, however when this empathy becomes a sinking feeling or despair it is not a good thing.

There is no end to suffering in this world. There is no end to pain. However, in all this suffering, a great mystery is hidden! Nothing else will produce such a complete good as pain can. Pain does not discriminate and you cannot escape it. Nobody can take pain away from you. You may even be a king, however if pain seizes you, you will have to bear it. When such pain occurs, even attempts to find comfort become pitiful aids and will barely suffice. This is especially true when you are dealing with soul pain.

The miraculous thing is that God, when you least expect it and while you have little awareness of it, looks down on you and takes pity on you. In this God allows you to get hurt and suffer, to experience complex pain, precisely because he wants to grant you His mercy.

Sin and Pain

Sin had dire consequences for man. Whatever ill befalls us in this world is a consequence of sin. Yet, at the same time this illness realises the salvation of man, precisely because it helps man humble himself, to remember God, to hasten towards Him and ask for His mercy and seek the grace of God. This is how, in the end, all of our illness leads to our good and man is saved.

It could be, that man sinned and of his own volition produces in him all this torture that sin results in, namely death, decay and pain. In all these results, God uses them to save man.

With the eyes of faith, we should be able to see this is how things stand.

Why do we sin?

“Remember the time you will die, and you will never sin”

Man sins because he wants to enjoy this life. If at any given moment, you are ready to die, if at any given moment, you think that you could die, then, you will not sin.

Death and all its undesirable aspects somehow sober up man. They bring him to his senses and prevent him from putting on airs, which would result in his losing his salvation. So, eventually, all our illnesses lead to a good end.

Death is permanent and man experiences humility and becomes tame before God in this life. In the next life it is impossible to discard the badness within him.

If you see death and the dying person with the lens of earthly reality, in the way most people view it and experience it likewise, you will feel deeply sorry for them. Indeed the mystery of death is formidable! However, if you see death with the light of God, within the love and compassion of God, then, yes, death may be terrible and formidable, our final end but, still, it is the passage to true life.

The remembrance of death and the thought of it help man come to his senses. It automatically removes the multitude of dark thoughts, which surround him or live within him.

We certainly know that we are going to die, but why don’t we want to think about it? Because we are afraid of death.

And one should indeed be afraid of death, and shaken to the bone by it, but when he is without Christ. Because the Lord said: “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”

When somebody has got a pain, which makes him suffer, it will at the same time foreshadow the nearness of death. When this occurs a person is stripped bare of more or less everything. This reveals their true self in the eyes of God.

A patient while he was experiencing such a revelation of death and the reality he would be leaving this world, said: “I wish I had been in the same frame of mind I am now my whole life.” This man by nature, because of his inner makeup, was very attached to earthly things.

Every minute of your life keep in mind that after a while you may not be living in this world but departing for the other. Then the heart is disentangled, gets unstuck and unhooked from all the things it was tied it down. The heart remains with God alone. It repents before His face. This is how you are freed. This is how you are saved and you will feel that paradise is present inside you.

“Remember the time you will die, And you will never sin”

At church … twice as healed
Here is a truth, at church man is freed from the demonic influence and the traps the devil sets for him. At church, man is healed.

The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is for the healing of our illnesses. If we are not healed, we don’t need to be healed. This is why we were not healed. If you comprehend this lack of healing, you are already healed. You know already that an illness, which lingers and does not leave, is precious.

Whatever needs to go, God will remove it. Whatever doesn’t need to stay, God removes, whether it is an illness or a demonic influence. And for whatever things that continue on and hurt us, we should pray to God. We should pray multiple times, again and again we should pray, not only for deliverance from our souls illnesses and the demonic influences but also for deliverance from body illnesses, as well.

Let us pray to God for everything again and again. Not because God needs to hear our prayers repetitiously, but because we need to demonstrate by our seeking of Him, our faith. For modern man such lessons are learned from repetition.

If you pray again and again and you will need to do this, and God does not answer your prayer or remove your illnesses, realise this: either you have not shown as much faith as He wants and expects from you, or that the illness should not go because it is necessary for you.

If you understand your illness from God’s perspective, then, when it remains, you will feel twice healed. If He heals you, you are healed once. If the illness lingers, you will feel healed twice. Both when the time comes to be healed from your illness and at the right time your soul will experience healing, also. When this occurs your inner person will be healed, this is the person who suffers from illness, from the leprosies of sin. The same goes for all mental illness and whatever else hurts us.

If man sees all his issues within the providence of God, he will feel such a relief, as if all his problems are solved. Because in God all is resolved!

The Lord takes pity on us

God doesn’t allow us to suffer for the sake of suffering.. How could He? How could this be possible, when He is the God of Love? He allows hardships to occur for our own good and for our own benefit. Whoever can see this is a saint already and they already dwell in paradise.

Here lies the secret. If we see things from God’s viewpoint, they will look different. A man who is humble, a man who trusts God, doesn’t find it hard to say: “No matter how things stand, God is merciful, full of tenderkindness and love toward all people. He doesn’t want to see people in pain, suffering, misery or torment. When such a situation occurs, then something else is the matter.”

In people’s lives, the difficult circumstances they experience are the direct consequence of their being far from God. In His mercy and love, God allows people to experience hardship and pain, so that they can awaken, so that they may arise and return to God. The one, who understands in their heart that God loves, that He takes pity on man and that He doesn’t want his creation to undergo hardship. They will say: “I need to undergo all this suffering and whatever else happens to me. I need this pain. No matter how great or how deep or how intense my hardship is, it will benefit me.”

Let’s not think it strange then, if we realise that the pain and misery we feel and experience, is a blessing, its God’s love toward us, it’s His very own mercy and kindness, which we feel and experience instead.

When you start to believe in the goodness of God in your heart, you will feel and confess: “When God allows pain and hardship to exist, my heart is all the more cleansed and sanctified. The benefit and blessing would have much smaller, had God relieved me of the pain and hardship.”

It’s no big deal for God to relieve you of whatever you are suffering from. It’s just not to your benefit. If, indeed, you love the truth, if you love God and you want to find yourself on the way to salvation, you will realise that what you are going through leads towards the softening and refinement of your soul. What you are going through leads towards your repenting, becoming more humble, developing real trust and love towards God.

There comes a time when you truly realise and experience that God could have taken all the pain and hardship away from you, if it had been your benefit. Instead, it was absolutely essential and beneficial for this pain to remain. This is why God let it remain.

Through faith we can understand that the Lord takes pity on us and says to us: “Hang in there and be brave. The time comes when whatever torments you, will be history”.

And the time has come to hear: “Enough already. You are saved”, so be it.

And if this doesn’t happen, it means that this is not the proper time; it means that it is not for our benefit for this to occur.

Consider a fine point here: The Lord takes pity on us and offers us what he wants and can offer being God as he is. But, he takes special pity on us when we think it’s not our fault that we are suffering and it may actually look like it (is not our fault from our point of view), and when we wonder: “Are we to blame? What have we done? Why has this or that tribulation befallen us?” Especially in these cases the Lord has special mercy on us and addresses us with these words: “Don’t cry. This is all for your own good,” and as if by some miracle, God raises us from the dead.

With no hesitation, I would say the following, brother
If you believe strongly enough for the Lord to perform a miracle for you, enough, let’s say, for Him to raise one of your friends from the dead or to keep you alive although you are heading toward death. If, I repeat, your faith is enough for God to act upon and perform a miracle, then, the miracle doesn’t need to happen. Not that God doesn’t need to make it happen, but in the sense that you, yourself, do not need it to occur, because you don’t want it to occur. The point is not for a miracle to occur. If this were the case, God would perform this miracle or many miracles. The point is for the inner man to rise from the dead, for divine life to enter the human soul and for man to live, to exist in God. When this occurs or when this life is lived rather than a plain human life, a great miracle takes place. This occurs when your faith is such that God could perform the “other” palpable or external miracle as well, but is no longer needed because this first is a spiritual miracle that has already taken place.

The Lord can heal all sick people, but He doesn’t do it. He only cures people once in a while. Sickness, diseases or even dying are not exactly the issue here. They are inevitable. For those who believe in God and have fallen from grace and walked the path of sin, they will bear all the consequences of sin. In order that they are saved in the end.

So, people will indeed get sick, they will indeed get hungry; they will indeed experience hardship and die.

Christ hasn’t come to raise all those who have died, or to feed all those who are hungry or even to heal all those who have fallen sick. He came to save everyone without exception. Much of the time, salvation happens through sickness and pain, through hunger, through various misfortunes and even through death.

Spiritual pain

Spiritual pain is often harsh and sharp; Indeed, it is very heavy. And I don’t simply refer to the spiritual pain one experiences through unpleasant events or circumstances which occur. Spiritual pain also refers to the poison one feels flowing inside them because of sin, because of their passions and weaknesses. Man wishes to be saved, freed and cleansed as soon as possible. Although he begs God for deliverance, his passions remain. They torture him. They crush him.

Consequently, even when you experience pain because of your passions, it is not for your souls’ benefit to be immediately delivered from your passions. Because then it is possible that you may brag about your deliverance. This is what happened with Adam and Eve.

If you don’t go through the necessary trial, you are crushed to the bone, so that your soul is sorely pricked and it is brought to a state of devoutness. Your spirit is humbled, in order for you to be appropriately prepared to receive the grace of God. It’s not to your benefit to be saved from the spiritual pain you may be feeling inside.

The Lord is always present. He hovers over us and He understands us better than we understand our own selves. He understands us better than anyone, He understands us when we are in pain, trials or tribulations, especially when this occurs internally.

Spiritual pain, pain of the soul is much stronger than physical pain. We are talking here about something that you cannot heal. We are talking about something that cannot be taken as if it were not there; something which cannot be ignored. Pain exists and it is real for us, but you can overcome it. Not in the sense that you can leave it or go to a new place where it does not exist. Wherever you go, it will come along with you. God allows this and He alone knows why, you experience spiritual pain.

How we react

There is pain in our lives and suffering. This is inevitable. What matters though, is how we react.

Grieve for your own people that have left this life as much as you feel like grieving, or for whatever else grieves as much as you want. But experience this pain in God. If you do so, you will realise that this whole pain sanctifies your soul.

No matter how paradoxical this may sound, the best, the most beautiful, the sweetest day of our life, if I may say so, is the day we consider to be the worst; this happens when we experience this terrible thing, this so painful thing in God.

If we experience whatever pain or martyrdom, whatever difficulty of this life in God, we will indeed benefit greatly.

The greater the pain and the harsher the martyrdom and the more painful the suffering, the greater we benefit from them, if we experience them in God.


We Christians are not allowed to ignore the truth of the Gospels or to struggle like the rest of people. A Christian may go through this or that, may commit sins, but provided they repent and the sorrow-in-God comes to his soul, joy and salvation will come also.

When pain is no longer needed, God will take it away. If pain continues, the pain remains, and this means we still need it.

God watches over each and every one of us. He never lets us endure more than we can handle. So, no matter how depressed we may become because of our situations, we can still rejoice and even have plenty of joy. Anyone can try to deal with things in such a way and have this experience.

Nothing can take away joyful mourning. Joyful sorrow comes as a gift from God. This is a divine state. Nothing can take it away from you, when it resides in your heart. Regardless of how many problems or difficulties you face, they will not affect you.

In your heart, in the midst of sorrow, you can have joy, not just plentiful joy, but infinite joy.

The Lord may allow this and that. On the one hand, we need to realise that if God allows for certain things to happen, we need this because we are still rough around the edges. We need a lot of things to grind us, so we become refined. On the other hand, let us obey the Lord, overcoming our own pleasure, our own mood, our own comfort as well as the tendency to sort things out the way we feel like it.

When people accuse you of something, try to ensure that the accusations are not true for you. When accusations are unfair, rejoice. The more unfair the accusation is the greater the benefit.

The more they despise you, mistake your intentions and mistreat you, the more you should rejoice because this is a kind of minor martyrdom.

We are all called to martyrdom one way or another. The more you accept what God provides for you, God indeed provides more and more and more so that your soul is sanctified!

Virtue comes at a cost. However paradoxical this may sound, if you decide to live in God, you will be eaten alive not by some enemies or pagans, but by your very own brothers. Not all people feel urged to get involved in spiritual struggle; so, they don’t know exactly what this means. And when they see someone involved in spiritual struggle, they get annoyed, they are seized by feelings of dismay and act spitefully.

People in the world do what they do to please themselves. Christians follow this way, too. They may fight spiritual fights; yet, the ulterior motive behind their struggle is that things turn out to be as they wish them to be. It is very rare to encounter a soul which says “my God, let things happen however you want them to happen”. It is even rarer for a soul to not only say that, but also be willing to accept what God allows with pleasure, no matter the cost.

It’s very rare to come across a true Christian, today. Without realising, we Christians fall into the same trap that all of humanity has fallen into: what is ideal today, what everybody is after is how do we please ourselves, how to make things turn out as we wish them to be, and what must be done to enjoy as much comfort as possible.

This may sound exaggerated, but be mindful of this: it is possible that Christians commit a great sin because they use their relationship with God and they make whatever sacrifices they need to make, in order to realise their wishes and dreams. Their aim is to please themselves.

Let us truly realise that because we believe in Christ, and exactly because we take things seriously and want to obey the will of God and follow His commandments. Because we want to be saved, we will go through a lot.

A Christian is different from other people and is what other people can’t be. Indeed, they are happy, they are joyful, they are at peace. They are in a state of euphoria. Their lives have both joy and mourning, a joyful-mourning and when they leave for the next world, they win life everlasting.

Cross and glory

Only God knows what every person should go through. A person should not only prepare for this, but look forward to this with joy. Because this is our glory.

The cross is glory for Christ. Similarly, for the people of God any given suffering, any given injustice, any given pain, for the love of God, is glory, too.

At the time when you are treated unfairly, you suffer. You may not be beaten up, but at the time when you are harmed, your soul realises pain. If you are beaten up physically, the pain you suffer may be a lot less painful than the heartache, the spiritual pain you can experience. So look forward to injustice against you with joy. Thank God because in this way a soul is glorified.

Do you come to terms with things fatalistically?

Absolutely no need of ours, brethren, stay out of the providence of God.

We should never hesitate to ask for God’s intervention. However we should be willing to accept either His immediate response or, if you please, His immediate lack of response. We make our requests, but He knows when and how He will grant us what we want.

We shouldn’t come to terms with things fatalistically. Having said that, even when we do everything we possibly can do, eventually, there will be certain things we can’t get away from.

For this reason, instead of fretting, rebelling, or complaining about God’s response to our prayers and mind you, in our complaint we, sort of, blame God – instead of feeling disgruntled, embittered or sullen, let us learn to be prepared for anything. Let us be patient. Let us rise up. Let us bow our heads (in a good sense), crouch our necks and bear our burdens. Indeed, do this with gratitude.

Let us thank God for whatever comes. The Lord will find us in whatever ill that befalls us. In all these things, he will perform miracles in front of our very own eyes, in one-way or another. Sometimes these miracles will show externally and other times they will be revealed only internally, in our souls.

People nowadays throw tantrums as if they were small kids. A kid throws a tantrum if their will is not done once or twice. They throw a tantrum and, in this tantrum, they lose themselves. And they suffer.

We haven’t learnt to get into the game of salvation or the interweaving of everyday reality with the grace of God. What we look for is to get away from one thing, avoid another. We expect our life to be covered in rose petals. No, life is not the way we want it to be, but according to how God arranges it to be. If you get caught up in stubbornness, in a complaint and, if on the whole, your attitude is rebellious, embittered or discontent, you are, indeed, far away from Christ.

When in pain, try not to rebel and try not to complain. Not at all. Don’t let this be your reaction. And if the whole world harms you, not even then, should you say: “they did me wrong” Nothing would have done anything against you, had God not allowed it. God allowed this because you needed pain… Mind you, I’m not saying they did the right thing.

As soon as we become humble, as soon as we get rid of whatever grudges we may be bearing, as soon as we repent, salvation instantly comes. Man is saved. These words are true.

Whoever did you wrong, was mean, will one day account for their actions. But you don’t benefit, nor does anything good come out of your constant grumbling: “He did this or did that against me; he deserves this or that.” Such a response is a pity… For it is God Himself, that allowed this person to do what they did against you. It was God that allowed this person to hurt you. Let this person be. Look at your pain and see it before the eyes of God.

No “buts” or complaints

Brethren, I want you to hear me. Some of us may have a habit of saying “but” to everything. This is not good. You may have the worst of afflictions, whether they be hereditary or from a different cause but, in the long run, these afflictions will be for your benefit, if you take things in the right way.

If your complaints and tantrums stop, if they are removed from your inner life and you can stop putting blame elsewhere, humility and salvation will come to you.

Why do you put the blame of your condition on something else? Because you want to salvage your ego and you don’t even realise it.

Some people have been utterly devastated in this life. They believe that they have no pride. However their stubbornness, their ongoing lack of repentance, their complaining and finally their deeply held belief that somebody else is at fault for their pain, instead it reveals a fierce ego, and an ego without humility.

As soon as we become humble, as soon as we get rid of whatever grudges we may be bearing, as soon as we repent, salvation instantly comes. Man is saved. These words are true.

You are having a rough time…

The deepest, the purest and most permanent benefit comes to the soul exactly at a time when man has nothing to rely on, to fall back on and in a way, when he is hanging in the void. Then, if man is well intentioned and seeks refuge in God, there is hope that true repentance and every other virtue will come to the soul.

It often happens that God leads things to such a point or a way where a man cannot bear it. God knows how much every soul can handle. When things come to the point that man cannot bear them, those who have even minimal trust in God, learn to trust even more. Thus, the old man dies. Selfishness dies and so does the spirit of profanity in his heart. Let us not deceive ourselves. There are very few souls which trust God with honesty and are not misled by self love. The majority of us, unless we go through rough times, seasons when we don’t know what to do and times when we feel lost and can no longer bear it. During these times of deep turmoil, we do not learn the lesson of repentance. Hopefully, in the most positive judgement, you are humble and have all the virtues, too. Or, so it seems. But deeper, your soul is still in darkness. It’s got sclerosis.

You have to sweat and strain yourself in order to get rid of the old man. Just like the snake, which painfully shuffles its skin so that the new skin underneath can be seen.

Man has to undergo indescribable hardship. Otherwise, the soul cannot be sorted out, cannot become smooth. Otherwise, the soul doesn’t repent. It does not overcome. The “dregs” of the old man do not scrub off easily. Man makes allowances for himself. He loves himself and doesn’t cast himself aside.

Man has to undergo such hardship to the point that he feels that he truly can’t bear it any longer, but he has to pull through. In spite of not being able to bear it, man has to bear it. In order to come through; he will have to resort to the “intervention reserve.” What I mean is that he will surrender to God wholeheartedly. He must completely denounce himself, that self, which constantly holds things back.

Our virtue is a veneer, which conceals all the sickness and sinfulness hidden deep in your heart. For this reason God allows for things to turn out in such a way, that you despair. God allows for things to turn out in such a way, that nothing stays in place. Except, for a subtle saving hope, which is hardly discernible. This is how you denounce yourself. Even though God allows for hardship, obstacles and temptations to come for our own good, we panic. When this occurs we actually think that God has abandoned us.

God is present through these things and He wants to do work in our hearts. Yet, we are scared; we are seized by cowardice and despair and as a result, God leaves us. We don’t benefit from the experience but remain at a standstill. Without progress as a person does not simply stay put, they move backwards.

Man should surrender himself into the hands of God like prey, like a victim, in the sense that the old man should, little by little, die. The old man should be sacrificed. Every intention to salvage himself or support his self love and thus feel fake joy, should little by little taper off.

In order to reach a good spiritual state, in order for spiritual work to be done in your heart, so that you see sin dying out in you, so that you start having real communication with God, you will have to ride out a lot of storms. So strong will these storms be, that you will feel all is lost. So, during times when you are in a good spiritual state, you can keep up the good work and study a bit more, listen to the word of God, pray better, believe more. If you do this, it will act as good yeast in your heart and when hard times inevitably come, you can lean and rely on that yeast, that good work.

Despite man’s taste of grace and good spiritual experience, despite his faith and virtue why does God allow for man to find himself in dire straits? And I mean the situation when man doesn’t simply think, but also everything shows indeed, that all is lost, as well as his soul.

Because the sin of man cannot otherwise die

Man tries to hold on to his ego in a thousand ways, like someone who no matter how drenched he gets in the rain, he still tries to keep some spot dry. However, if he gets thrown into a water reservoir, there is no hope for a dry spot on him. Likewise, man throws himself in a pool of hopelessness and despair and as all human support gives way, there is nothing he can rely on to hide his ego… in the sense of saving. And he surrenders his ego to death.

Knowledge of ourselves, communion with God

Suffering itself does not open the eyes of the soul, but it does produce humility. Our suffering reveals selfishness, needful repentance and allows our inner man to see God’s love and forbearance.

If our problems remain, they need to remain, because there are other deeper problems which will not be rectified, unless these external, more visible problems, the ones we want to go, remain. These external problems will leave also, but only after: our deeper and inner problems, our shortcomings, our weaknesses, the leprosy of our sin, the complete badness of our sin and even what the devil has caused in us through sin, is first cured.

If your whole being is not pierced through by a sword. If your soul is not thrust through, if you don’t suffer and bleed, realise this: a lot of terrible situations that lie within you. They will remain inside you and be at rest there. You will be ignorant of this and your inner state will continue. You will not be able to repent for these unseen and terrible situations and You will depart this world unrepentant.

It is really important to know ourselves inside out before we leave this world, to repent accordingly and ask forgiveness from God and people, so that we are truly forgiven. So that our heart is cleansed, brightened, saved and finally glorified.

A spiritual father, due to his experience, and responsibilities, understands about the many deep flaws, the passions, the many deep and hidden illnesses inside a person. This would not have surfaced nor would not have been identified had not God allowed him to literally bleed and to suffer.

Let us not hesitate tο reconsider our inner philosophy and inner reality. Let us not fear. Let us not lose heart. Let us not step back, no matter how things turn up. Because things always occur in such a way that we say: “if it were otherwise, I would be fine; but, as it is… I can’t stand it”. No! Let us accept things as God allows them to be. God will soften our hearts. He will bring joy to our hearts and he will gladden our hearts. He will minister unto you an entrance into his everlasting kingdom.

“Dear God, in my whole life, I haven’t been through a more painful thing. Dear God, don’t let this happen to anybody else. Dear God, in no other way could my heart have benefited so. This humility, this repentance, this willingness to fall on my knees, in front of you and venerate you, this communion and unification with you wouldn’t have come to my heart otherwise”.

Martyrdom: Being put through the grindstone … and receiving God’s gift and grace

We are so pampered in the present day that we seek convenience in everything. We want to take everything easy, we want nothing to upset us or displease us. The spiritual life does not work like this.t. In the present world, for as long as we live, we should offer ourselves up as martyrs. Whoever is eventually saved, will have gone through martyrdom.

Pain brings to the soul more gain than anything else. No matter how hard you try to overcome yourself and give yourself to Christ with prayer or any other virtue, it is not easy, because you pity yourself, you love yourself and can’t bear pushing yourself more than your self allows you to.

When you pray or practise any other virtue, you are still in control and take things up to a point that you want. Pain, though, fis a different type of plough, it goes deep into your being, ploughing mercilessly, in spite of your writhing with pain. It doesn’t ask you a thing. You feel limitless pain. Here lies the secret. As you are about to moan and you feel like groaning, do so but without bearing a grudge against God. Say this: “may this pain be blessed, my God”.

Let this be a groan, which means: “let it be blessed”; Let this be a groan as if you are saying: “you know, my God, that I am in terrible pain. You know that I would like the pain to stop, but let things be as You wish. Don’t let my will be done.”

Whoever wants to be saved, will find themselves on the path of martyrdom. The more a person loves the Lord and surrenders himself to Him, the bigger their martyrdom will be.

Whoever sees the Christian life in a way that escapes martyrdom, is not in alignment with the kingdom of God. They will fall behind. They cast themselves aside.

Whoever believes and enters the life of martyrdom, will suffer like martyrs. The more they love martyrdom and the more they wish for it, the more martyrdom will come to them. The more it will never end. God will not let them slowdown or stop and eventually waste their toil and labour.

God knows all. He takes you in his hands, he takes care of you and from then on he guides you in such a way that pain leads to more pain, martyrdom leads to more martyrdom, but also grace brings more grace and, eventually you make progress and you are not wasted.

The point is not tο encounter martyrdom and suffering in an uncertain, indefinite or unclear way. Here is the point: do you accept and embrace the ploughing of your being? Will you say, “Whatever it takes…”

Have you ever seen how wheat is ground in the mill? If I may say so, the millstone doesn’t “forgive.” It doesn’t make allowances (it doesn’t skip grains). It doesn’t pretend it doesn’t see. Whatever goes under the millstone gets ground. This process is final and complete.

This is our reality, you too will be grounded, but while this occurs, you win over everything, you win over death, and mostly, you win over yourself. In this you become a man of God.

The martyrdom each and every one will go through is no laughing matter. Martyrdom is pain and suffering, it is being ground under the millstone. This is a raw reality. At the same time if you accept this martyrdom without reservations, it becomes a gift, iit is grace. In this you reach union and achieve communion with God.

Everything points to one thing: in martyrdom lies the secret. This is the undertaking. This is the width and depth of spiritual things. Do you believe this? Everything else is fairy tales.

Pray that I don’t take offence at God

No matter how much adversity or danger you face, do not become offended with God. Try your hardest to overcome this temptation and recognize this stumbling block. Instead, dedicate yourself totally to God.

For a Christian, it’s out of the question to get tired, to fall into negligence and carelessness, to get bored, to feel as if he is not in the mood or as if he is running out of courage. These are temptations and a Christian won’t allow them to influence him.

Life on earth has joys but also it has trials and sorrows. Blessed is the Christian who does not take offence with God. No matter what God allows to occur in their lives, they remain patient. Realise the necessity of finding a spiritual father, a guide and becoming their disciple. This is a safe path.

By becoming disciples to pain, we secure our salvation

It is God who governs us. He has placed us under his wing. He is our shelter.. However, we have to act in such a way so as to make sure that we are not led astray.

There’s no point in us simply suffering or simply enduring tribulations. We should ensure that we have become disciples, that we worship God, and that we are on a safe route.

Thanks to pain, every selfish root, every hard root is uprooted from the heart of man. The painful things go away and man is left with the blessing of God. He becomes humble.

When you are blessed in life, you are at risk of becoming conceited. However when you are blessed after you’ve been in pain, a lot of pain, then, it is difficult to be proud. You have been humbled, crushed and melted. You become as dust before the eyes of God.

For someone who lives in communion with God there comes a time when he says: “It couldn’t have been otherwise, my God. It couldn’t have been otherwise. You’ve done everything right. The way I was, the way I was thinking, the way I wanted everything in life wouldn’t have brought me to the road of truth. I would have been driven from pillar to post. Things couldn’t have turned out any better, my God. What You have done is ever so good.” Here the mystery of salvation is found. At some point the soul will confess:

“Thank you, my God, for not taking pity on me. If you had taken pity on me and responded to me while I was rebelling and throwing a fit because it seemed to me you were not treating me right, I would have been lost, Oh my God. Indeed, I would have never imagined this was how things should have happened had you not acted the way you acted.. I would not have accepted your providence, if you had left things in my hands or if you had asked me. But you have provided everything so that my soul would be saved. Thank you. I am grateful.”

We will meet people in heaven some of which will be children who were disabled in this life. They will be people who were tried and tested in many ways and they will say to us: “If I was saved and now in paradise it is because I was the way I was on earth and went through all the things I did. At first, I thought that huge misfortune and misery had befallen me until I understood the truth. I believed in God and was saved.

We will find in paradise many of those who suffered great pain in this life and had serious problems in this life. We will encounter such people if God makes us worthy of going there. But we won’t come across any of those who seemed to have a ‘blast in this life’, who seemed to have fun and who seemed to live life to the fullest and whom we considered blessed or lucky. None of these people will be there. We are narrow hearted and narrow minded. We look at the few years we live on this earth and take pity on the person who suffers by saying: “What a pity, poor thing”. However, God sees eternity. And he knows that, unless he provides whatever every soul needs, the very same soul will say to him at some point: “My God, I didn’t know, but you knew. Why didn’t you allow for something to happen to me in this life so that I wouldn’t miss eternity altogether?”

All people who have been saved because God allowed for them to have an issue of some sort or allowed for something to happen to them in this life, will forever praise him and glorify him in eternity.

We do not strive to get sick; but once we are ill, some goodness will come out of it. We won’t turn a child into a disabled one, but once the child is disabled, some good will come out of it.

God’s love has the means to use everything to the benefit of man

Let us manifest this faith

The more we realise that heaven is silent and the more it may seem as if God is rejecting us, as if he is turning a deaf ear, as if he is turning us down, the more certain we should be that He is present. The more we should, try to believe and muster up our powers to manifest this faith.

There is no end to suffering in this world. There is no end to pain. But a great mystery is hidden in this pain. This is one manner to respond, but it’s totally another when man wallows in misery and despair. That isn’t a good attitude.

Nothing does us as much good as pain, and I mean, our pain and the pain of our own people. It hurts a mother more to see her child in pain than be in pain herself. And a lot of good comes out of this pain. Nothing else does us as much good in this world as pain. Don’t look at whatever painful thing theoretically, thinking that yes, OK, God knows about it but still he is somewhere far away and he seems as if he is looking down on you, or ignoring you; and as a result, you remain stuck in your whichever situation and curse your fate. No, no. God allows it all for your own benefit.

And when you are in dire straits just say: “God knows about it. God allows it.” Try your best to manage to say so. God is all wise, all good, all compassion, all love. He doesn’t make mistakes. He Envelopes man with such love that man can barely suspect of. So big is the love of God for his creature.

At a time when you are experiencing unbearable pain, let yourself loose in/or do a free fall into the mystery of God’s providence, no matter how hard pain is pulling you down to sink in it. At that time the healing that takes place in your soul is of such kind, which would never have happened otherwise. There comes such self knowledge, such knowing of the providence, love and goodness of God –knowing in terms of experience– that you realise such a thing would never have happened in any other way. And just as God allowed for this to happen, great good came out of it. You can see that. You can put your finger on it.

Muster your courage and brace yourself against bending and breaking in pain but also to feel to the bottom of your being that God is taking pity on you. And it’s as if he is saying to you: “Don’t cry. I am here.” Then you feel a resurrection in you. And that’s palpable truth.

And such a resurrection is way superior to the resurrection of a dead man who lies in a coffin. It’s the resurrection of a soul!

Whatever happens, no matter how much pain we are in, no matter how we are worn out or influenced by our whole condition –one could reach the point of madness– we have to be open to God. Because God is the Saviour. God knows, sees, watches us over.

We should learn this lesson: it’s of great significance in every situation to think instantly as follows: “God knows, sees, listens. Whatever happens, it happens with his permission and blessing”.

Let us always hope that God will relieve us of pain but also let us beware of this: Whether we are relieved or not, whether the pain stops or not, whether the sorrow stops or not, the road of communion to God through faith and hope should constantly remain open.

When man has faith, hope and trust in God nothing other than pain can bring him before God, totally face to face with God.

A person in pain not only has no other hope, but also finds no rest, finds no relief.

In the eyes of pain everything else is shed off. Man remains alone with God alone, when he has faith, of course.

Does pain become more? More our hope in God should become. Is Suffering more? More should our faith to God be. Does the silence of God seem louder? More should our faith be that God sees, listens and will take care of things; He won’t let things be as they are.

The more silent God remains, the more present he is. The more it seems as if all is lost and as if there is no hope anywhere, the more present God is. The more he intervenes invisibly and mystically.

He doesn’t reveal His help, he doesn’t let us see it, but He does a lot of work in the heart of man, depending on man’s faith, hope and overall attitude. Here lies the secret. The point is not our will to be done. What does a man in pain want? Not to be in pain. What does a man in suffering want? Not to suffer. However, this is not the issue, the issue is to reach communion with God. When this occurs man becomes like a madman, but what a good madness!