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Troubles and Trials

“… when we deal with suffering it can be difficult to understand and convey why things are happening. St. Paul writes of suffering (and remember, he suffered a lot), “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). This can be difficult to remember or to find consolation from when we are in the midst of trials.” (Melissa Tsongranis)

“It is, of course, one thing to say that our trials and sufferings are opportunities to enter into the love of God, and another to live such a paradox moment by moment. At times, our fear and grief may leave us angry and confused, asking, “How can good possibly come of this?” But the Lord has not left us the paradox of life from death as a puzzle, like a Rubik’s Cube that only the very clever can solve — no! Through the mystery of His Cross and Resurrection He has unlocked the door for us, and He Himself shows us how to pursue this process of transformation, a path that takes us through our brokenness into joy.” (Holy Synod of Bishops of OCA)

“Trials, the world's oppression, take place by God's permission. The issue is not trials but our response to them. Properly received, trials reveal where our hearts are. They are food for faith, which must grow or die. The godly reaction to trials is joy and perseverance…Though unkind circumstances are from the evil one, to get angry at circumstances is to get angry at God, who permits them…the apostle [St. James] teaches that for the faithful, trials should be nothing but joy. The wise welcome them not so they can show their strength in overcoming them. But those who rejoice in affliction know that going through it  produces “patience.” The Greek word means literally “to abide under”…Thus, instead of complaining, blaming, or becoming discouraged, the wise bear the burden of every hardship with a peaceful mind and a trusting heart, drawing strength and comfort from the knowledge of the mercy of God.” (Orthodox Study Bible, James 1:2, Fr. Basil)

“It hurts to be broken, but how we react to that pain is what determines whether it turns us into diamonds or destroys us. Pain can make us bitter and afraid, or it can make us strong and courageous so that we have nothing to fear when the hour of trial arrives yet again.” (Sylvia Leontaritis)

“…there will be times in our lives when our world as we know it will become unraveled and the rug, upon which sat precariously all our best laid plans, and assumptions about how things “should be,” will be ripped out from under us. The entrance of chaos and upheaval into our previously ordered-ish existence can be faith shattering. It is not at all unusual in seasons of crisis to fall prey to bitterness, disillusionment, anxiety, and disappointment in our own lack of willpower to defeat those passions and spiritual afflictions that ail us. Speaking from experience, digging oneself out of a rut of despondency where anger, fear, and discontentment also abide, like loud and slovenly roommates all up in your personal space and business, is impossible using mental gymnastics. There is no reasoning your way out of enslavement to negativity and despair…The mysterious thing about trials and sufferings is that they can be incredibly effective at knocking down barriers to profound inner growth and transformation…Struggling and enduring has lead me to an alternative path to healing, one so narrow it has required a painful amount of letting go, as I cannot carry with me down that path any conditions or stipulations, any pretenses or presumptions, only a longing to abide in the eternal, unearthly peace that is Christ.” (Molly Sabourin)

"Saint Anthony said to Poemen, 'expect trials and temptations until your last breath.'" "I am convinced that not even the apostles, although filled with the Holy Spirit, were therefore completely free from anxiety. . . . Contrary to the stupid view expressed by some, the advent of grace does not mean the immediate deliverance from anxiety." (St. Makarios of Egypt)

“During times of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear, we naturally turn to God for refuge, peace, and courage…God remains our refuge, our peace, and source of courage…Within this trial, this threat to so much that we hold so very dear, there is a call that is given and a promise that beckons. But to hear that call and see the fulfilment of that promise, we need to approach our Savior as His faithful children have always approached Him, not with self-righteous indignation or self-pitying despondency, but with humble, patient hope.” (Bishop Alexis)

“Prayer can become a way of life, once we have tasted its sweetness, and once we finally begin to understand the futility of so many of our thoughts. In time, we learn to long for the ultimate source of existence on an ongoing basis, and to make the awareness of God part of the fabric of more and more of our moments. No other person can fill us with life as God does, and it is for Life that we were created. Yes, we, each of us, are sinners and strugglers, each with our own weaknesses. But by the same token, whatever the spiritual life is supposed to be, it can’t be meant only for those who are so perfect that they are beyond all temptation. Somehow, it is in the midst of our confusions, fears, distractions, temptations and habitual mistakes that we are meant to pursue that “one thing needful”: a living relationship with the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, and to love Him who is “the express image of the Father,” and who is also the one “upon whom the Spirit of the Father descends and remains.” Even those saints who reached the blessed state of apatheia, of no longer sinning even while in the body, still continued to face the trials of this life.” (Timothy Patitsas)

“Indeed, everything revealed to us in the faith assures us that there will be trials – for all. Of course, this verse (1 Corinthians 10:13) has given rise to the popular saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This is not only a distortion of what is actually said, it is a complete reversal. “What I can handle,” in the popular trope, easily becomes the measure of what God can give. It serves as yet another reason (or excuse) for not believing in God. Bad theology generally ends in atheism for the simple reason that the God of bad theology is not the true and living God. I don’t believe in that God either.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“It’s essential for people in the world to know the Bible, but especially the children. It’s absurd to send children out to trades and to school, and yet not to give them a Christian upbringing. How long are we to be mere lumps of flesh, stooping to the earth? Let everything be secondary to our training our children in the discipline and love of the Lord. Do not seek mere outward learning. Let’s teach and train our children to bear every trial and not be surprised at whatever happens to them. Everyone will respect them when they see them in the fire without being burned.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“…our earthly life consists of nothing but serving others, and that, in fact, there is no life other than that of serving and patiently bearing sorrow and pain…The Lord permits many disappointments, sorrows, and misfortunes to befall us in this earthly life in order that we might stop placing our trust in the world, which harms us so much, and that we might realize that He alone is the Source of all comfort, peace, and stillness.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“We are called not to do evil, to hate it and to endure it from others. Trials in the life of man do not exist as a result of an evil God, but as an excellent teacher which tries to assist us in beneficial and corrective ways, even during various misfortunes. Whoever believes the only one responsible for evil is God, is seriously mistaken…It is not the events, but the perversity of our thoughts, that makes us suspect God of meanness.” (Elder Moses the Athonite, St. John Chrysostom)

“In times of grief, terror, and dejection we may reach “the end of our rope” – and yet God is present, most noticeably in our extremities. He tells us that He is preserving us along the way and promises to bring us home after He accomplishes all things.” (Dynamis 9/7/2019)

“During times of crisis and suffering, times of fear and uncertainty, we need to be supportive, responsible and loving to each other. This love and support is usually better expressed in actions rather than words unless we have come through prior suffering and experienced grace, blessing, and God’s love within the suffering even though the circumstances of our suffering may not have changed or immediately changed. It is only through this experience that we can speak from the heart and say words that reach another’s heart and don’t come off as empty platitudes. Being able to be thankful to God during trials is not easy unless you have experienced it. You can’t share what you don’t truly know.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“So in every test, let us say, ‘Thank you, my God, because this was needed for my salvation.’ ” (St. Paisios the Athonite)

"The purification process for gold requires the fire to become extremely hot so that the impurities will rise to the top. Once these impurities rise, they are scraped off so that the gold remaining will become pure. The trials in our life are like purifying gold. God uses these trials to allow those character issues that are blocking our ability to love to rise to the surface.” (Ray and Nancy Kane)

“…as the body suffers ten thousand things, in the like proportion hath the soul goodlier hopes and becometh brighter, like gold refined in the fire more and more.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“Who among us has not faltered and taken a wrong step? How often do we let pain or troubles steal our peace in Christ? Let us have no illusions; a multitude of forces assault us, distract us, and rudely separate us from the Lord’s path. The question is how, then, are we to stand fast in the grace of God?”… we stand by faith (1 Thes 3:6-7)… we reframe our understanding of the tribulations that come to every Christian…Earthly pressures come to us, but the Apostle Paul…reminds us “that we are appointed to” trials (1 Thes 3:3). We know, furthermore, that trials are appointed by our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. We give thanks that God’s hand is ever upon us, knowing that He is especially near when we endure afflictions… Our love for Him and His love for us is our bulwark against straying (1 Thes 6).” (Dynamis 11/5/2018)

“Not only is Jesus our ultimate hope, it is He who lovingly strengthens us to endure trials.” (Foundation Study Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:18)

“In Christ we have received forgiveness, love, and adoption into the family of God. These goods are undeserved, and that frees us from the temptation to feel proud of our suffering. But also it is the present enjoyment of those inestimable goods that makes suffering bearable.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

" ‘Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you’ (1 Peter 4:12)… The fiery trial is the suffering of tribulations that tempt us to unfaithfulness, to the ruin of our faith. God's people have always suffered unjustly, but in baptism the sufferings in which we partake are those of Christ Himself, which will ultimately bring great joy…‘rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.’ (v. 13).” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Peter 4:12-13) “

If one faces everything spiritually, then even illnesses and tribulations do not remove the joy…Even when one has not been delivered from his passions and is going through trials and tribulations, he can still be joyful. If he considers that such worries are the medicines for his passions, then he accepts them with joy — just as a sick person accepts bitter medicine, in the hope of getting better.” (Papa Demetri)

“At times we will undergo trials, not because we want to suffer, but because we want to obey God…God is with us through every situation, in every trial—protecting, loving, guiding. He knows and loves us completely.” (Life Application Study Bible, Hebrews 5:7, Psalms 139:1-5)

“Everything in life—our work, dreams, relationships, triumphs and trials—are all given to us so that we might become alive to the beauty and mystery of Christ’s love.” (Jonathan Jackson)

“Many are suffering job loss, illnesses, mortgage foreclosures, and all kinds of strife and hardships. Yet if we look at these difficulties in light of eternity, this time of trial is nothing. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Every affliction tests our will, showing whether it is inclined to good or evil. This is why an unforeseen affliction is called a test, because it enables a man to test his hidden desires." (St. Mark the Ascetic)

“My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.” (C. S. Lewis)

"Before permitting a tribulation to come upon us, God worked in a good and kind way; but people did not understand Him, so He then permits the tribulation. You see, even when a child is misbehaving, his father - at first - tries with kindness to help him change; but when the child does not change his behavior, then the father resorts to strictness in order to correct the bad behavior. In much the same way, when people refuse to change in response to kindness, God sometimes allows tribulation to come upon them so they can recover. If there were no pain, no illness, no tribulations, people would turn into wild beasts; they wouldn't approach God at all." (Blessed Elder Paisios)

"God sends [permits] us trials and afflictions to exercise us in patience and teach us sympathy with the sorrows of others." (St. Vincent de Paul)

“Some think that troubles are always caused by sin or a lack of faith. Trials may be a part of God’s plan for believers. Experiencing problems and persecutions can build character, perseverance, and sensitivity toward others who also face trouble." (Life Application Study Bible' 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3)

"Often when life is going well, we neglect our spiritual well-being...on the other hand, during adversity we show the least self-centeredness and instead focus on the needs of others." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“Life's circumstances can make you bitter or better…There are a few different ways we can respond to them. We can let them control us; we can try to control them; or we can trust that God is in control no matter what and, with this understanding and discernment respond, to them as best we can.” (Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, Sacramental Living II)

"Knowing that God loves and cares for us enables us to keep steady in our faith regardless of our circumstances.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 31:14-15)

"Though prayer is a kind of artillery that changes the circumstances of the world, it is as much or even more about changing our own understanding and attitude toward those circumstances.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“...while a person might undergo a personal transformation, your life situation around you doesn’t change. So you still have the same life struggles, but you are now trying to be God focused...Regarding a particular circumstance (or set of circumstances) outwardly, in terms of how others see it, nothing seemingly has changed. But your inward transformation, the result of your focus on God, changes your mindset and how you deal with the circumstance in a dramatically different and better way." (Lillian Daniel, Sacramental Living II)

“Spiritual discernment enables us to draw conclusions based on God’s perspective, make wise decisions in difficult circumstances... Those whose hearts are empowered by Christ and God’s infinite love are able to stand pure and strong amidst terrible circumstances.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 2:13, Dynamis 2/25/2014)

“When we follow the difficulties, we demonstrate courageous, overcoming faith…God comforts us in our troubles, not out of them." (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 1:22, Gary and Mona Shriver)

“The way of the believer is not an easy road; being a Christian does not solve or remove all problems.” (Life Application Study Bible, Acts 20:18-21)

"If, in our most difficult hours, we look for the potential God had planted in the problems that surround us, we will realize that something wonderful can come of them, if only we trust in God." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“Sometimes the worst of times are designed by the enemy to get you to give up on God’s clear direction because He knows of the powerful and wondrous blessings that are ahead." (Chip Ingram)

“Instead of complaining about our struggles, we should see them as opportunities for growth...God will not leave you alone with your problems; He will stay close and help you grow.” (Life Application Study Bible, James 1:2-4)

"Jesus said many times in many different ways that in this world we will face trouble but don’t worry…Admittedly, this can be very difficult sometimes but prayer helps us know and accept this truth with a peace of heart and mind.” (Sacramental Living)

“God is more concerned with our condition than our comfort, and He will allow things to become uncomfortable in our lives to expose our true condition. He would rather have us temporarily uncomfortable than eternally tormented." (Lisa Bevere)

"Many times we want to escape from the pressure, when the pressure, if we yield to it, can shape Christ-likeness in us." (Beth Moore)

"If we had our way, probably none of us would ever choose hard times. Yet the hard experiences usually mold us into people of strength and character." (Thomas Jones)

"Trials and temptations, when confronted with a peaceful heart, are conduits of healing and make the soul that much stronger and healthier.” (Abbot Tryphon)

"Fears and anxieties are rarely resolved by God in the form of answers to problems. They are far more likely to arise organically from the depths of a relationship with Him...It’s all about God in us, shaping us, breathing within us, sounding us out, summing us up, spicing our lives with the savor of His immense love.” (Hieromonk Maximos)

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