General Spirituality

Dealing with Suffering!

Peo­ple react quite dif­fer­ently when con­fronting suf­fer­ing. Some cry out in anger; oth­ers rebel in frus­tra­tion. Another might seek scape­goat to vent his frus­tra­tions. A fourth might instead aban­don the way of purity and right­eous­ness, and decide to live a life of plea­sure and lust, feel­ing almost jus­ti­fied to lust for his light affliction.

St. Cyril of Alexan­dria explains that the entire pur­pose of the Incar­na­tion was for our Beloved, Lord Christ was to save the impov­er­ished state of human­ity, and to help it with His divine aid and love. But in order to fully help and save human­ity, He had to… take all that it was as His own, with­out sin, in order to lift it to the heights of His glory. When Nesto­ri­ans claimed that the true God could never suf­fer com­pletely, St. Cyril pointed to the Lord’s cry on the cross, “My God, My God why have You for­saken with tears to the One Who was able to save Him from death” (Heb. 5:7).

But, St.Cyril warns, “If any­one thinks that Christ had fallen so low into faint­heart­ed­ness as to be Me?” (Mt. 27:46) as proof of His per­fect human­ity and His great love towards us. He “Who in the days of His flesh offered prayers and sup­pli­ca­tions with a great cry, and ‘sor­row­ful and cast down’ (Mt. 26:37) that He could no longer bear His suf­fer­ings but was over­come by fear and mas­tered by weak­ness, then He assuredly con­victs Him of not being God, and also shows that He appar­ently had no right to rebuke Peter…After all, He Him­self had com­manded His dis­ci­ples to stand fast against their fears of death and con­sider suf­fer­ing as noth­ing in the course of ful­fill­ing the will of God.”

God became human in order to teach us how to live as human beings. He became a model for us in every­thing, includ­ing suf­fer­ing. “For Christ also suf­fered for you leav­ing you an exam­ple that you might fol­low in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21). “This is why,” St.Cyril writes, “He extended His prayer, and shed a tear, at times, even seemed to need a sav­ior Him­self, and learned obe­di­ence, while the whole time He was the Son…Yet the beau­ti­ful and help­ful exam­ple of this action was…meant so that we should learn some­thing from it, an easy les­son, that we must not hurry down another path when the occa­sion calls for courage.

For this rea­son Christ once said, ‘Do not be fear those who kill the body but can­not kill the soul; but rather fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Mt. 10:28), and again, ‘If any­one wishes to come after Me let him deny Him­self, take up his cross, and fol­low Me.’ (Mt. 16:24).” So what is the response of the true and faith­ful Chris­t­ian in the midst of suf­fer­ing? It is to be united with Him in His suf­fer­ing.

Thus, St. Cyril again writes, “Should we, for exam­ple slack our grip and fall into care­less­ness, with unrea­son­able rev­el­ing, liv­ing for the sake of plea­sure? Or should we give our­selves over to prayer, stand­ing in tears before our Sav­ior, seek­ing and thirst­ing for His assis­tance, and even ask­ing for courage in case it is His will that we should suffer?”

Let us all stand fast in the Chris­t­ian faith, and be unwa­ver­ing in our path, stead­fast in our faith, firm in our resolve, joy­ful in our strug­gle, faith­ful in our car­ry­ing the cross, so that on that day we may hear that joy­ful voice cry­ing, “Come to Me, blessed of My Father, inherit the king­dom pre­pared for you from the foun­da­tion of the world” (Mt. 25:34). May we all con­tinue the blessed sea­son of Advent car­ry­ing the cross with our Sav­ior, prais­ing His first com­ing to earth and eagerly await­ing His Sec­ond Coming.

Archdeacon Moses Samaan

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