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Spiritual Struggles

“In order to encounter God, we must be sincere in prayer…Know that the road we travel in our spiritual life in order to encounter God and come to know Him is not straight, but winding…there will be times in your life when you’re moved, and there will be times when you spiritually dry up. There will be times when you’re happy to go to the Divine Liturgy, but there will also be times when you’re reluctant to go to church. If you ask priests, they’ll tell you the same thing, that they have times where they weep during the Divine Liturgy, moments of deep spiritual emotion due to the presence of the Holy Spirit, and times when they don’t feel it, but only weariness. These changes are natural, because we’re mutable: You wake up happy and in the evening you’re sad; in the morning you’re happy, but by noon you’re in a bad mood. That’s how we are. It’s the same in prayer: There are times when we don’t really want to pray. What should we do? Should we give up praying? No. The first thing God requires of us is that we be sincere.” (Fr. Charalampos Papadopoulos)

“We are “co-workers with God” (synergoi Theou, 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thess 3:2). (Not “co-workers under God” as some translations would have it). The mystery of salvation is a duet, not a solo. It is a life-time engagement with God. It has ups and downs, twists and turns, with opportunities to grow in the love of God, knowing that we can turn to Him again and again and receive forgiveness and a new birth.” (Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos)

“One of the worst things we can do when we are deeply discouraged, feel like we are losing heart, having doubts and finding our faith shaken, is to complicate this by beating ourselves up for feeling this way. Christ tells us where our treasure is that is where our heart is also (Matthew 6:21). Times like this are times to reassess where we have been focusing our heart, how we have been reacting to external circumstances and the evil and troubles of the world (and the troubles in our lives) and how it is all affecting us inwardly. It is a time to gently remind ourselves to refocus on Him and His promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). The Crucifixion was followed by the Resurrection. The two events are never separate and that is the pattern of our lives in this world. Ups and downs in life are inevitable as is suffering, but we have the promise of the ultimate good outcome and we need to hold on to that during the down times.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“It [our faith] is about God entering our lives, lifting us up, supporting us, strengthening us, healing us. If we live with this faith, with this sense of God in our lives, then we can handle our life’s ups and downs.” (Fr. John Zeyack)

“The mystery of suffering may be great, but God’s location within our suffering isn’t. He is here, holding us as we suffer a broken world, tugging us forward toward the healing and surety we can find only in his gracious hands.” (Sarah Clarkson)

“The spiritual journey is not an exercise in modern psychology or a path to becoming “well-adjusted.” It is a journey through difficult places within the heart toward a Reality that is formed and shaped by God…the spiritual journey is not about becoming a superman or superwoman; rather, it is about letting God use you exactly as you are…” (Father Stephen Freeman, Robin Phillips)

“You complain about the volatility of your inner state- sometimes it’s good, at others it’s bad. It can’t be otherwise. ‘I’ve undergone unpleasant spiritual states in a variety of forms and continue to do so’. All we can do is bear them with patience and fortitude, without relaxing our spiritual struggle and without neglecting our observance of God’s commandments, which is exactly what you’re doing. A good spiritual state arrives. It leaves. A bad one comes along. It also leaves. The alternation is continuous and unavoidable. All you can and ought to do is always desire and pursue what’s good. If we don’t ever face any difficulty, we’ll have fallen into a spiritual coma….Seek God, such is the unalterable rule of all spiritual advancement. Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near, but it is only given to those who seek and work, and only to those who put their own powers to the test, then cry out with all their heart: Lord, help us. So long as you hold on to even a little hope of achieving something by your own powers, the Lord does not interfere.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“The nature of spiritual warfare is that it disrupts our inner being. We may know the right thing to do but not want to do it. We may want to do the right thing, but find we are struggling against our self to make our self do it. Temptation, lust, sin are powerful forces that can pry us away from doing the right thing. And the body can sometimes be too tired to wrestle with its own desires and find it easier just to give in. As St Paul notes it can be wretched to follow Christ as we have to go to war with our own desires.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“So, if we fall into the concupiscent passions, our next backstop is the irascible ones–at least don’t blame God and others, don’t lash out and grow resentful, nurse rage, reject your very self, lose all peace. Saint Seraphim of Sarov says that when we fall, “we are not to be our own executioners” through indulging in self-hatred over our weakness don’t neglect your daily struggle with images in prayer, your fasts, nor the many simple adventures in chastity. We think those are the least of our obligations, but they are where the battle will be won or lost.” (Timothy G. Patitsas)

“ times we may find that we have plateaued spiritually. We may even feel spiritually stuck. Such moments can become a great source of frustration. We often begin to shame ourselves or get frustrated with ourselves about this realization or belief that we have spiritually plateaued. However, when we do this, we are only further dooming ourselves to spiritual stagnation. Spiritual growth requires desire, striving, and hope. Shame and frustration are poor motivators in the process of theosis. The time and energy we expend on shame and frustration would be far better spent on the pursuit of insight and self-awareness.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“[The] exodus of Jesus into the wilderness following His baptism has a dual symbolism: (1) it fulfills the OT type, in which Israel journeyed in the wilderness for forty years after its “baptism” in the Red Sea; and (2) it prefigures our own journey through the fallen world after baptism as we struggle towards the Kingdom.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 4:1)

“For Christians, pursuing Christ’s Kingdom within – the struggle for purity – must cover every aspect of our life…” (OCPM 2/5/2016)

“Steep and thorny is the path that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom. What is your path? It is the struggle unto blood against fleshly passions and self-love. Self-love is the soil upon which grow passions, emptiness of life, and sorrow.” (Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) of Bogucharsk)

“Have you noticed how many people claim to respect gentleness, humility, forgiveness, service, and love as great ideals, while in practice they disdain these as ineffective? They reject such virtues in the day-to-day struggle of this world, being driven to win, bent on self-aggrandizement, and set on personal advancement. The truth is that the evangelical virtues require enormous spiritual reserves, as the lives of Christ and the Apostles demonstrate.” (Dynamis 6/29/2018)

“Most want to possess the kingdom without labors and struggles and sweat, but this is impossible.” (Pseudo-Macarius)

“Doubt” is a topic that comes up often…in any journey of faith. We wonder things like: Is my faith strong enough? Am I doing what God wants me to do with my life? If God loves me, why does He allow me to struggle with certain things without success? These thoughts can cause distraction at a minimum and can lead one to feel down and distraught at their worst.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“Our faith is about learning to live in the revealing of things that were hidden. True Christianity should never be obvious. It is, indeed, the struggle to live out what is not obvious.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

…how can it be that sometimes, while one is in a good spiritual condition and is joyful, he suddenly loses that joy?’ God sends you spiritual joys and you rejoice. He takes them away from you and you seek them again — exerting greater effort in your struggle, and making greater spiritual progress.” (Papa Demetri)

“For God to help, one must have a desire to struggle. And when we say a desire to struggle, we mean that one must be willing to make some effort to overcome his particular weakness. If God sees even a little true will, He provides abundant help for man, He sends His Grace in great abundance…Man can attain to holiness only in God, not by nature, but by participation, by struggle, by prayer.” (Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)

“The way you respond to your personal struggles shows your attitude toward God. Rather than becoming angry with God, continue to trust Him, no matter what your circumstances may be. Although it is sometimes difficult to see, God is in control.” (Life Application Study Bible, Job 21:22)

“Our struggles are not about right or wrong, win or lose, can or cannot—they are often just life as it is.” (Leslie Haskin)

“Jesus does not abandon us to our struggles...If we remember that the ultimate victory has already been won, we can claim the peace of Christ in the most troublesome times.” (Life Application Study Bible, John 16:33)

“Christ promises that, through Him, encountering God the Father makes sense of our struggle with life and supports our efforts to bear up under the weight of all that experience ‘dishes out.’” (Dynamis 7/5/2014)

“We should never lose sight that God’s love and grace are always available to us, though sometimes we have to go through struggles.” (Sacramental Living)

"Dear Lord, it is often very difficult to see the "silver lining" in our problems. But we know that You can see the good that is to come for my struggles. Help us to be ever patient and to trust in Your goodness, so that we, too, may see the victories contained in what appeared to be our defeats." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“God gave men and women a natural law within them—the ability to choose the good and avoid the evil…”(Orthodox Study Bible, Isaiah 8:20-22)

“Overcoming evil depends on whether or not we choose to take up our interior struggle under the shield of divine wisdom. If we choose to go it alone we will surely taste bitterness, emptiness, and defeat. These are unnecessary and tragic, for ultimately evil is a vulnerable foe, an enemy with a fatal flaw. The key to victory, therefore, lies within us and depends upon persisting under the protection of wisdom.” (OCPM 1/27/2016)

“We must pay close attention to everything we do, and struggle to uproot the ferocious beast of egotism that eats away at us. Our ego! When it erupts within us, we become enraged, we criticize, we make demands, we curse, we ridicule and humiliate others. It is a beast! This is what impels us to criticize. This is what inflates us with the idea that we have accomplished great things, that we are good, that we possess virtues and thousands of other things. The origin of all good things is humility. Conversely, the origin of all evils is egotism.” (Papa Demetri)

“The only way we can genuinely live in reality is by discovering and surrendering to the natural movement toward God within each of us. The more this movement takes root in our lives, the more we are able to contemplate the nature of God and His creation.” (Kevin Scherer)

“Christ points toward a realm and a Way that actually is Himself. He is within our souls. He can purify us and help wrest us from the control of every invading enemy.” (OCPM 2/5/2016)

“Indeed, life is a continuous struggle. This struggle of the individual begins the moment he takes the first breath of life. As the years pass, it becomes all the more apparent to us. This struggle of the individual expresses itself in three areas. There is the struggle of the individual with society, the struggle of the individual with self, and the struggle of the individual with God.” (Bishop John of Amorion)

“… everything in nature requires friction to bring about change - a moth to a butterfly, a match and surface to bring about fire - the examples are endless. We human beings require friction as well. …. Yet why is friction actually good? Friction is good as long as we understand it in the context of spiritual struggle and growth…So we need to make a commitment in our heart to stick with our struggle.” (Sacramental Living)

“Your current struggles hold great potential for your spiritual growth. The most difficult circumstance you face is packed with glorious potential if you can see past the fear and pain toward the gift that waits for you.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“God in His goodness has arranged things perfectly, so that with our gifts, we can help each other, and with our faults, we can be humbled by each other. For every person has some gifts; but everyone also has some faults which one must struggle to overcome.” (St. Paisios of Mount Athos) “

God has not left us alone in our struggles to do His will. He wants to come alongside us and be within us to help.” (Life Application Study Bible, Philippians 2:13)

“As we struggle with anger, gluttony, judging others, sexual impurity, and any other of a myriad of passions, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. We find ourselves feeling defeated and tempted to give up the battle. Sometimes we even tell ourselves we have no choice, for we were born that way, or our temperament is the result of our upbringing. There is certainly a kernel of truth in all this, for we were born into a fallen world…Yet this struggle is not about our power or strength, but simply about surrendering to the Lord of mercy, who would save us.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“You will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants, which all clamor for satisfaction, irrespective of whether it is in accordance with the will of God or not…it is . . .

necessary to stifle your own wills and to continue extinguishing and killing them. . . . In order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. So prepare yourself for this struggle and this warfare. . . ” (Saint Theophan the Recluse)

“It is very easy for us to feel profoundly sorry for ourselves when we struggle… Invariably, people who thrive in life and work are those who learn the power of gratitude, hope and faith in the midst of darkness and pain.” (Gordon T. Smith)

“In order for us to repent, God must open our eyes so that we see ourselves as sinners. If true repentance follows this revelation, then godly sorrow is induced. This sorrow in turn leads to confession and the struggle to follow Christ in every aspect of our life.” (Dynamis 4/20/2015)

“We should never lose sight that God’s love and grace are always available to us, though sometimes we have to go through struggles.” (Sacramental Living)

“When the same sins constantly plague us, despondency is our enemy...Holiness requires struggle, and the despondent person is unable to see the possibility of victory, so she surrenders to despair. The first step toward victory is simple. We just get up again. If you fall a second time, get up a second time.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Christ declares, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Among… Christians, some are fully attuned to divine truth, some partially so, and some barely. Our faith calls us to the struggle of knowing and embracing Truth Himself in worship and in all of life. However, the numbing effects of this world often seduce us into negligence and mindlessness…” (OCPM 5/29/2016)

“Each day we have to recommit to following Christ…This is our constant struggle today…. Each moment we are offered choices which test us as to our disposition: Will we follow Christ, or ourselves and the world?” (Archimandrite Sergius)

“It’s also easy to measure God by our fortunes and misfortunes in this world, but that is a worldly way of measuring our faith. Christ makes it clear that we will have struggles but that we should take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We should never lose sight that God’s love and grace are always available to us, though sometimes we have to go through struggles.” (Sacramental Living)

“Without struggle there is no progress, no greatness, making of things to happen.” (Ralph Ransom Frederick)

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