My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
HOPE IS AN INDISPENSABLE VIRTUE
Let us see what the Holy Scripture say about the virtue of hope:
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all
men the most pitiable." (1 Corinthians 15:19)
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have access by faith into
this grace in which we stand, and rejoices in hope
of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God
has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us." (Romans 5:5).
"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope;
for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope what
we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance," (Romans 8:24-25)
Faith and hope are inseparable. The virtue of hope goes together with the power of faith. Hope is the confidence that despite all the challenges which we face in life, the grace of our loving God is upon us to guide us to do that which seems impossible.
Hopelessness is the opposite of hope. According to our Church tradition, the state of hopelessness or despair is the most dangerous and sad condition a person can be afflicted with. It is the most harmful and one of the most precarious states for the soul to be in. The loss of hope is the most awful state because, without hope, nothing else is possible. What empowers hope is faith. "If a person is faithless, he can be chastised. If a person is proud, he can be humbled; impure, he can be cleansed; weak, he can be strengthened; evil, he can be made righteous. But if a person is despondent and despairing, the very condition of his sickness is such that his heart and soul are dead and unresponsive to the Grace of God and the support of his brothers."
"The demon of despondency which is called the "noon-day demon" Psalm 91 is the funeral psalm in the Orthodox Church, a song of confidence in God’s protection. It is also a prayer before bedtime. This psalm describes Satan in various ways: "the terror by night, the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that walks in darkness", and "the destruction that lays waste at noonday. The psalmist proclaims, however, the victory of the man of God over all of these manifestations (vv 9-16).
Hope is indeed more than optimism; it is settled confidence about things to come. Hop is the sincere trust in God’s unconditional love and mercy. The most significant cure for despair is humility and patience, the steadfastness to faith. Saint Seraphim of Sarov advises: "It is to visit with spiritual friends, with those who are hopeful, merciful, joyful and strong. It is to stand fast t the end while passing through aridity and darkness until the delight of blessed hope and comfort are found. There is no other way, and "those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:44). But when one "fights and conquers against despondency and despair, this struggle is followed by a peaceful state and the soul becomes filled with ineffable joy." (Evagrius, To Anatolius On Eight Thoughts)
We are warned by the Holy Fathers of the Church say, "that despair is a great danger to spiritual life. Once you fall into it, it is very difficult to climb out. If frequently comes up in the sacrament of confession, and as a spiritual advisor, it is one of the most difficult spiritual illnesses to cure. The Church Fathers refer to it as "akedia", in other words, the passion of despair.
The Holy Spirit is always present when we turn to Him in prayer and fidelity. Hope leaves our heart open to the Holy Spirit, while despair or hopelessness, shuts the entrance to our heart. It is up to us to keep the door to our heart open to the Holy Spirit so that He may enter it, cleanse it, dwell in it, bring His Divine Light in it, enlivened it, bring healing, and life in it, and transformed it to the true dwelling place of God, the Holy Spirit.
One of the most dangerous weapons in the arsenals of the evil one, is despondency or despair. He uses these weapons against us to cripple us spiritually and to obstruct and prevent our salvation. He uses our disappointments, illnesses, sorrows, and failures in life to turn us against our Maker and Savior. This arch-liar and adversary seeks our destruction and to turn us against our Loving Lord. Satan weaponizes despondency to his advantage and induces in us a profound sadness.
Depression is mental illness, and there are all kinds of drugs, and thearapies for it. There are millions of people who suffer from depression all over the world. Most of them turn to phsychiatrists and other professionals for assistance and therapy. Others tragically give up and end their lives abruptly. A person of faith, though, turns to prayer and the Greatest of All Physicians, Christ, the Physician of our souls and bodies. It is in Him that we find healig, hope, love, truth, restoration, and peace. There is absolutely no one who knows us better than our Creator! There is absolutely no one who loves us more than Him; There is absolutely no one else who accepts us as we are more than our Savior; There is absolutely no one who has sacrifice more to save us from sin and death more than our Master Jesus Christ.
If we would look at depresssion, despondenc, despair closely we would see that it is also a form of temptation. This form of despair attempts to sever ties with the Almighty God and surrender to the adversary who brings death and destruction. Pray! Pray! my good people and invite our Lord into your life and do not listen to lies and slander. Our God is the God of Love, the God of Life, the God of Truth; and the God of Light! Trust Him and Him alone!
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George