Monday, June 7, 2010

Longsuffering - Why Troubles and Suffering?

I know this will not be a popular topic.  But Saint Maximus the Confessor teaches us that we are brought to perfection and in union with God in a way that is both positive and negative.  We are uplifted by the beauty of good and all that God does for us.  But there is also judgment.  This includes punishments which God allows us to experience so we will be motivated away from sin and evil things.

Saint Maximus writes,
He who loves good and beautiful willingly moves toward the grace of deification; he is guided by providence (the protective care of God), by the logoi (the divine guiding principle) of wisdom.  But he who isn't in love with this is attracted against his will and this causes him to be rightfully judged by various kinds of punishment.  The first, that is the love of God, is deified by providence; the second, that is, the lover of flesh and the world, is stopped by judgment from arriving at condemnation.
Often, as we progress spiritually, developing self-control and watchfulness, we become proud of our achievements.  We begin to see ourselves a superior to others.  We then become slaves to greater passions that lead to pride and vainglory. There is a need for us to be corrected in this.  Therefore, God allows for disappointments and troubles so that we can be healed from these higher passions. The virtue that aids us is patience. With patience we learn to overcome the passions of anger.

Fr Dimitru Staniloae says,
Self-control and the supervision of thoughts.... are aimed at the passions of appetite (gluttony, unchastity, love and wealth); patience in the face of dissatisfactions which people cause us and the bearing of varous troubles which are meant especially to weaken the passions of anger (dejection and irritation), although they contribute too to a full withering of the movements of appetite.  So this virtue has its place after the virtue of self-control. 
Often, when we face troubles and disappointments we feel as if we have been forsaken by God.  When things were peaceful we felt God's presence, but when trouble comes we may feel as if we have been rejected.  But we must remember that in times of trouble our faith is tested.  It is one of the ways we are taught.  We are to thank God for the opportunity to learn to become more humble and seek His comfort.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 168-169

1 comment:

  1. It is very encouraging to recall that God transforms everything into good and that all moments are potentially salutary...THANK YOU for posting Dn Charles...


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