Along the difficult way—that is, in the trial of sickness and so forth—the thorn of doubt, of impatience, of cowardice comes to rend the garment of the soul. What is needed, therefore, is to pull out this thorn through faith, hope, and patience, having Jesus Christ as a model. Throughout His life on earth
He had many afflictions, and His all-holy soul was oppressed by many thorns, and so He exclaimed, “In your patience you will gain your souls (Lk. 21:19).”
Through illnesses and through grievous things in general, God bestows gifts upon us as a Father, for He seeks ways to impart His holiness: “What son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, you are illegitimate children and not sons (Heb. 12:7-8).” Oh! Whenever we suffer, then it becomes manifest that we are children of God. And who would not like to be a child of God? Therefore, if you want to be a child of God, endure the afflictions and trials sent by God with thanksgiving, faith, and hope.
Even trials coming from people are really sent from God so that we may acquire tolerance, forbearance, compassion, and patience, for all these are divine characteristics, as the Lord says to us: “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45).” For this reason we are obliged to love all people. May no trace of hatred or evil be found in our souls, so that we may be called children of God.
The sufferings of our whole life are not worthy to be compared with the inconceivable good things that God has prepared for those souls which carry their cross, whether it comes from the devil, other people, or one’s own nature. Because whatever passion or weakness may fight us, when we fight back against it, it causes us to be counted worthy of the blessing: “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life (Jas. 1:12).”
For this reason, my child, endure everything, for a crown is being woven invisibly for the head of each one of us. Winter is bitter, but paradise is sweet. Endure the frost of trials that your feet may joyfully dance in heaven.
From Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim of Arizona
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors