“I REJOICE IN MY SUFFERING”

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"I REJOICE IN MY SUFFERING"

"The Saints," writes Saint John Chrysostom, "being lovers of the Lord, accepted with great willingness the tribulations for the sake of the Lord, and became more cheerful by these. One said: ‘I rejoice in my sufferings.’ Luke, on behalf of the other Apostles, said the same. He said that, after many scourgings, "THEY LEFT REJOICING THAT THEY WERE CONSIDERED WORTHY TO BE ABUSED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST."

Here, therefore, is why pain is considered blessed. Because it prepares men to become sharers of the Divine Kingdom, where only joy and delight exist. But we could say that pain works out joy in us from now. The Apostle Paul writes appropriately to the Corinthians: "I am filled with comfort, with all our afflictions, I am overjoyed" (1 Corinthians 7:4). He is further glad for his sufferings, being immersed in them because his sufferings supplement the deficiencies of the tribulations of Christ: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church" (Col. 1:24).

He calls THE SUFFERING BELIEVER to praise God with an outstanding joy. Because when HIS FAITH IS TESTED AMID TRIBULATIONS, THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION IS OFFERED TO HIM, AND THIS GIVES HIM AN UNSPEAKABLE JOY, WHICH IS THE FORETASTE OF THE GLORY OF GOD: "In this, you rejoice though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may rebound in praise and glory and honor of the revelation of Jesus Christ: Without having seen Him you loved Him, though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy; As the outcome of your faith, you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:6-9).

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans that joy in midst of afflictions is caused also by UNCEASING AND CONSTANT PRAYER. This happens because prayer is animated by hope, and because the God of love and hope answers THE PRAYER OF PAIN WITH A FLOOD OF PATERNAL JOY: "REJOICE IN YOUR HOPE, BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION, BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER" (Romans 12:12). "MAY THE GOD OF HOPE FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE IN BELIEVING, SO THAT BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT YOU MAY ABOUND IN HOPE" (Romans 15:13).

The BELIEVER SHOULD REJOICE DEEPLY IN THE MIDST OF HIS TRIBULATION, BECAUSE WITH HIS PAIN HE PARTICIPATES IN THE SUFFERINGS OF THE Teacher, the Lord Jesus. Thus, he considers EVERY TRIAL AS THE GREATEST JOY: "COUNT IT ALL JOY, MY BRETHREN, WHEN YOU MEET VARIOUS TRIALS," EXHORTS THE APOSTLE JAMES (1:2).

Joy in the midst of pain REQUIRES MATURITY. We could say that this joy is the gathering, harvest, and vintage of this esoteric maturity, that ONLY THE SCHOOL OF PAIN CAN OFFER. The joy of the suffering soul IS GOD. He is, and constitutes, the UNIQUE GOOD. ONLY GOD CHANGES SORROW INTO JOY AND GRANTS PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE. HE REMAINS "OUR STRENGTH" (Nehem. 8:10). This joy is particular, irremovable, and inalienable; it is firm and has outstanding beauty and incomparable content. IT IS THE FRUIT OF THE Cross and of the pain, as one expects and yearns for the resurrection. IT IS THE JOY OF THE SON OF GOD (John 16:20). IT IS THE FRUIT OF THE STRUGGLE FOR PERFECTION. NEAR CHRIST AND UNDER HIS CROSS, PAIN WORKS OUT THE COMPLETION OF MAN: "AS THE BELIEVER WALKS FOLLOWING CHRIST, PAIN REACHES THE HEIGHT OF GLORY, BECAUSE HERE ON THIS ROAD, THE GREATER THE PAIN, THE CLOSER THE COMPLETION. THERE IS NO GREATER JOY THAN BECOMING CAPABLE OF ATTAINING THE HIGHEST.."

In Dostoevsky’s The Karamazov Brothers, Dmitri Karamazov is recorded as saying that, "IN OUR GREAT PAIN WE SHALL BE RESURRECTED TO JOY", and that, "WITHOUT IT, MAN CANNOT LIVE, NOR CAN GOD EXIST, BECAUSE GOD IS HE WHO GIVES JOY. THIS IS HIS PREROGATIVE, HIS GREAT PREROGATIVE."

This joy inundates the Martyrs in the midst of the pain of martyrdom AND GIVES THEM AN UNSHAKABLE AND UNIQUE ASSURANCE THAT THE ROAD TOWARDS HEAVEN HAS OPENED TO THEM BY THE BLOOD, PAIN, AND DEATH OF JESUS (Hebrews 10:19). This joy makes the Apostle Paul leap joyfully, even in his various trials and sorrows, because he thinks of the blessed future that awaits him (1 Corinthians 15:54).

To show that in tribulation there is joy, Christ reminds us in the instance of childbirth: "When a woman is in travail, she has sorrow, because her hour has come, but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy that a child is born into the world" (John 16:21).

In this world WE WILL HAVE SORROW (John 16:33). IT IS GIVEN TO ALL OF US, AND NOBODY IS EXEMPT, BUT IT WILL FINALLY TURN INTO JOY. As far as a faithful Christian and a true disciple of Christ is concerned, nothing can and nothing should do harm to his joy. NOTHING SHOULD SEPARATE HIM FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST (Romans 8:39). Although externally he may seem sorrowful, as he is walking on the difficult road of pain and tribulation, within himself, he tastes and feels a heavenly joy. He feels joy that will fill the elect when God the Father shall forever eliminate from their eyes and heart every pain and tear (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). Therefore, the means for this heavenly joy is pain. IT IS MEANS, NOT A PURPOSE, BECAUSE PAIN ITSELF IS NEITHER BEAUTY, NOR JOY, NOR SOMETHING PLEASANT. THUS, BY MEANS OF PAIN, COME JOY AND PURIFICATION AND THE ACHIEVEMENT OF VICTORY.

Saint John Chrysostom writes: "I rejoice in my sufferings not that he raised dead people, nor that He drove away demons… But that he
underwent thousands of sufferings… Extensive wounds, often the danger of death, many imprisonments…" Thus, Paul everywhere boasting in his tribulations, adorns himself excessively with this. For Christ promised two things, TRIBULATION AND THEN REPOSE, PAINS AND THEN CROWNS, SWEAT AND THEN REWARDS, BENEFICIAL AND SAD THINGS. THE SADNESS HE GAVE FOR THE PRESENT LIFE, WHILE THE BENEFIT FOR THE FUTURE AGES, showing by both that He does not deceive mankind… Because a deceiver proposes the benefits first and then produces [brings over] the sad things."

Elsewhere, Saint John Chrysostom writes: "Glory to God for everything. I will never cease saying this, always rejoicing over all that happens to me." If we earnestly could repent from the depths of our heart in the midst of our difficulties, like the wise words of this great Father, then we might feel a divine serenity and a heavenly sweetness. We would then be able to accept every pain, every affliction, and every trial with joy, "INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT" (1 Thessalonians 1:6). This joy of the Holy Spirit would heal the wounds of pain, and our hope in the Lord Jesus would be greatly magnified. (Source: The Pain. An Orthodox Scriptural and Patristic Approach)

______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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