Friday, August 13, 2010

Illness as the Love of Christ

Elder Porphyrios suffered many illness during his life. It was the reason he could not stay on Mount Athos. Even though he suffered more than a normal person, he would thank God for his illnesses.

He says,
I am in great pain, but my illness is something very beautiful. I feel it as the love of Christ. I am given compunction and I give thanks to God. It is on account of my sins. I an sinful and God is trying to purify me. 
Normally we pray asking God to heal us, to free us from a maladies. But the Elder takes a different course. When he was sixteen he asked God to give him a cancer so He should suffer for His love. His elder told him to not pray in this way because it was egoism. He didn’t continue with this kind of prayer but he did receive his wish.

He says,
Now I do not pray for God to take away from me the thing I asked HIm for. I am glad that I have it so that I can participate in His suffering through my great love. 
I do not pray for God to make me well… I pray for my soul, for God to forgive my transgressions. I am not taking medicines, nor did I go for surgery, not even for tests…. The grace of God sustains me. I try to give myself to Christ, to approach Christ and to be one with Christ… 
We benefit greatly from our illnesses, as long as we endure them without complaint and glorify God, asking for His mercy… 
Often we do the opposite of this.  Some even get angry at God for their sickness.  Next time you you are sick, think about all that God gives you and how difficult it is for you to do all He expects of us.  Try giving thanks to God for this time of humbling.  Through your contrition and thankfulness, you will receive grace so His will can be done for you.

Reference: Wounded By Love, 224 - 231


  1. I have an illness that can not be cured many people that have this deseae have died but i have survived i take medicines everyday and even though medicines help people people still die from this desease and i found out a long time ago that i am alergic to most medicines on the market and many friend have passed from this desease but i feel that God needs me for something i don't know what but he will tell me when the time comes and in the depths of my being i thank God for what he has given me .
    Steven S

  2. Thanks for sharing Steven. May God continue to bless you.

  3. Freeman Ioannis Edward added the following comment on facebook: The Apostle writes the Church at Corinth, as recorded in his second letter, that a "thorn in the flesh" was given to him--"a messenger of Satan"--lest he become too elated with the visions and revelations provided by the Lord. The Apostle's conclusion was: >> ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ· ὅταν γὰρ ἀσθενῶ, τότε δυνατός εἰμι << ["for the sake of Christ, whenever I am weak, then am I strong."].

    τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι -- It is easy for pride or egoism to come on the heels of hyperbole through an experience. Gifts that come from the Lord as revelation can raise a prospect of self-importance. The same can go for any gift that comes from the Lord. Because we give thanks for gifts that please and sustain us, such as skills to perform for which we receive pay, we already know how to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving. However, extending thanks to God for set-backs that happen in life, which are seldom pleasant or comfortable, requires mature faith.

    ὅταν γὰρ ἀσθενῶ, τότε δυνατός εἰμι. The poetic meter is the same in all of our lives who follow Christ.

  4. Thank you so much for this wisdom. Living as an Orthodox Christian is truly "a way of life." Thanking God for suffering is not a popular concept within Protestant circles...from whence I came.

    My heart knows that it is through suffering that we share in the sufferings of Christ. And Scripture attests that, "For it has been granted to you for the sake of Christyou should not only believe in Him but suffer for His sake."


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