My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"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 the devout Orthodox Christian who is facing extraordinary trials and tribulations in this earthly life, our Lord Jesus Christ remains his/her greatest hope. No matter what trials and disappointments the faith of the follower of Christ remain strong and resolute. The true believer always finds strength within. Why? Because "His Divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of Him Who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3). The holy Apostle Peter assures us we have no need for anything other than what we have received from God. Our Creator and Fashioner remind us constantly "I shall dwell among them and walk about in their midst" ( Leviticus 26:12; 2 Corinthians 6:16).
We are never alone and therefore we must never ever lose hope. Fear has no place in the Christian heart. Believing in God’s presence the Christian can never feel, hopeless, alone, and forgotten. Saint Paul says, "hope that is seen is NOT hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do NOT see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance" (Romans 8:24-25). We ought to understand that hope is more than optimism; it is strong confidence about good things to come. One must exercise patience and patiently wait no matter what the suffering may be.
At times of distress and uncertainty the believer does not allow himself to become a victim of hysteria but always turns to prayer. The Christian believes that God the Holy Spirit will help us to pray. Prayer in the spirit, also called prayer without words, is the highest form of prayer. The Holy Fathers of the Church teach us that are three stages of prayer: (a) saying the words of the prayer; (b) saying the words with meaning and full concentration; (c) praying without words when one is so filled with the Holy Spirit and so in union with God that words are inadequate.
Our human reasoning is weak and flawed and no one can rely upon it. It is a mistake to attempt to understand anything with defective reasoning. If one attempts to reason things out will always fail. Instead, let us believe with certainty that hope is the anchor of our life. Life on earth is bettered by all kinds of unforeseen storms. No human being can traverse through life and not face these fierce storms that darkened our horizon. However, the person of faith faces these storms no matter how threatening they are with courage and hope. We know that storms come and go they never remain indefinitely. Our Almighty God reassures us that very fact when we see in the heavens after a storm is over a beautiful rainbow lighting the sky.
Each and every one of us is a child of God. A child and a precious soul that our Heavenly loves unconditionally and for all eternity. No one should doubt this very fact. If we truly believe this we must never feel unloved or neglected. Feeling pity for ourselves and being dejected is wrong. These negative feelings not only do not serve us well but they are no less a type of temptation from the evil one. What led Judas Iscariot to hang himself was not only guilt for betraying his Master but also hopelessness. Although one of His disciples, if he truly listened to Christ’s Divine words, he would have known that if he had repented His Master would have forgiven him as He forgave Peter for denying Him three times.
Hopelessness is faithlessness! Nothing can be accomplished or overcome without faith. Saint Paul reminds us: "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Sampson and Jephthah, also David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens.." (Hebrews 11:32-34).
Our Heavenly Father is NOT a human father but our Creator Who is perfect in every way. No one should act like a spoiled child and have a tantrum every time he or she does receive all that one asks for. The sincere person accepts God’s decision no matter what it is. God is All-Wise and knows what is best for each and every one of us. We trust God and we never question His will for us. Even in prayer we do not demand but supplicate and entreat Him with humility and genuine obedience. We do not approach our Savior with anger, arrogance, conceit, or pride as though we are superior to Him. He is God and our Heavenly Father and we are His willing slaves (δούλοι) or servants. No servant or slave ever dictated to his/her Master of goods he or she desires. In ancient days when a wealthy and powerful man purchased a slave in the slave market one of his first acts was to shear a lock of the hair from his/her head to indicate to the slave that from that moment he or she belonged totally to him and expected complete obedience. The slave had no rights at all. Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, Our Divine Master paid the price to save us and NOT to enslave us but to free us from evil and death. But how to repay Him?
Saint James the holy Apostle writes: "If any one of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask IN FAITH, WITHOUT DOUBTING, FOR HE WHO DOUBTS IS LIKE A WAVE OF THE SEA DRIVEN AND TOSSED IN THE WIND. FOR LET NOT THAT MAN SUPPOSE THAT HE WILL RECEIVE ANYTHING FROM THE LORD" (James 1:5-7).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God