God chastens and then heals; He raises up and casts down—who is able to withstand the will of the Lord? If God wills that we suffer, He has some salvific purpose in mind which we earthly ones are unable to foresee. Whereas patience, forbearance, and the humble acceptance of trials will always —yes, always— bring certain benefit later.
My child, bear your cross, and know that all that we suffer is known to God, and as a true Father He tries in every way to form Jesus Christ within us. 1 He wants us to suffer because He knows what He has prepared in the heavens for His suffering children. But if He did not send them afflictions, He would do them injustice, because they would be deprived of the ineffable blessings of heaven. The more we suffer, the more beautifully our crown of glory is woven!
Never believe that you are possessed; never let any such thought deceive you. Such things happen to many monks when they become ill. This is how God has arranged things: when the body is ill, the soul follows accordingly, and when the soul suffers, the body also wastes away and sulks. The tempter was envious of you, my child, but let us be patient so that he may be foiled and God may be glorified.
Who does not feel pain when he undergoes surgery, and who does not feel pain when he loses the grace of God and is swarmed by thousands of warped thoughts? This is how God’s wisdom has arranged things to bring about the soul’s correction.
All things will pass, as well as the winter of our passions, and the sweet spring of health will blossom again, and you will rejoice and say, “It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy statutes.” 2
As nature’s seasons —winter, spring, summer, and autumn— follow one another, likewise the spiritual seasons follow each other. One goes, another comes—and thus the soul becomes accustomed to all spiritual changes and becomes wise and experienced. This experience is grace, which supports the soul in times of terrible changes, so that from past trials it will know well that only patience and forbearance can provide a peaceful state and beneficial thoughts. In this manner, we emerge from trials with benefit, and we become wiser and more experienced.
1 cf. Gal. 4:19
2 Ps. 118:71
subm. no. 19
paragraphs: 3, 13*, 16 from pages 42, 48, 52
‘*’ means paragraph was chopped into pieces, perhaps not all of them included.
From the book
Councels from the Holy mountain
Selected from the letters and homilies of Elder Efraim of Arizona
Selection of passages from the book by Silviu Podariu