Hidden behind every trial is a blessing of God
Almost everyone owes their conversion to a certain trial.
Sorrow is a bad thing. However, hidden behind it - behind the pain, behind the sorrow, behind the trial - is a blessing of God, rebirth, and the re-shaping of the individual and of the family. Almost everyone owes their conversion to a certain trial.
Just when they think that everything is going fine, God takes away their child; this is followed by weeping and upheaval etc. But then, the Grace of God comes and overshadows them, and they eventually feel an inner peace; they approach the Church, they approach Confession, they approach the Priest. For the lost child’s sake, they now go to church, as their pain makes them seek and pray for the repose of its soul, and they also arrange accordingly for Liturgies to be performed.
Pain softens the heart and makes it receptive to God’s words, whereas before it had been hard – for example, this was something that a young person in the vigor of his youth would not accept: “I am the one, and no-one else!” And off he would go, as healthy as can be, after the acquisition of degrees, after glory, after beauty, after everything… But when an illness renders him bedridden, then he will begin to think differently. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” (Eccl.1:2) “I may die; What was the benefit of all those things?” And so he begins to think differently. For example, a person may come to him and suggest “Here, read this book, see what it says…” He may also listen to someone talking about God, except that now, he will listen to that word. And if you do give him a book, the pain will have already prepared his heart suitably, and he will open both the book and the Gospel – and he will read them. It is from there on, that the res-shaping of a person commences. And when he does finally recover from his illness, he immediately gets back on his feet and thereafter lives his life far more carefully - and not like he did in the past, with the pride and the fantasy that he displayed.
Illness and sorrow are the par excellence medicines of God’s Providence, which bring man close to Him and which increase his virtue.
Illness and sorrow are the par excellence medicines of God’s Providence, which bring man close to Him and which increase his virtue. Job was the finest man on earth at the time, but God wanted to make him an even better one. Indeed, Job was glorified, after he had remained steadfast through all the severe trials. He was a good and pious man etc., but, not having been tried and tested, Job was not renowned. However, after being tried, after fighting back and struggling, he was finally crowned and his wealth was restored, and his glory also commenced thereafter and has spread to this day.
His example is a shining one; it reinforces every person who undergoes trials. If he – a holy man – was tried, so much the more should we, who are sinners.
The outcome of Job’s trials was his becoming a saint, years were added to his life, and he was rewarded twice and three times over what he had lost, thus becoming a perennial shining example for every suffering person – who should adapt and rely on this example and also feel rested, saying: “As the Lord thought, so be it. May the name of the Lord be blessed.” He should bow his head in the presence of trials, and say: “What God gave, God has taken away. Even if He takes the child away from me, wasn’t God the One who gave it to me? Well, He did take it away. And where is my child now? In heaven? What is it like, there? The child is at rest there…”
Hidden behind every trial is the will of God and the benefit – which, at the time, one may not be able to perceive; however with time, he will perceive the benefit. We have an immense number of such examples.
Take for example Saints Andronikos and Athanasia. They were husband and wife; Andronikos was a goldsmith, with vast wealth. With the one part of his profits, he tended to his family and with another part of the profit he would loan to those who had no money, without demanding interest.
The couple had two lovely little girls. One day, they both died of a disease. The parents buried them both. Poor Athanasia wept and wept and wept endlessly over their grave… Andronikos also wept, but he eventually returned home. Poor Athanasia remained by the grave, grieving: “My children… my children….”, until the sun was about to set and the cemetery had to close. For a moment, amid her grief and her tears, she noticed a monk approaching her, who said:
“Why are you crying, my lady?”
“How can I not cry, father?” she replied (thinking he was the cemetery’s priest). “I buried my children... my two angels… I put them in the grave, and now my husband and I are left all alone… We have nothing that can refresh us…”
He replied: “Your children are in Paradise, together with the angels. They are in the bliss and the joy of God, and you are mourning, my child? What a pity…. And you are supposed to be a Christian…”
“So my children are alive? They really are angels?”
“Of course your children are angels.”
The “monk” who appeared there was the Patron Saint of the cemetery’s church.
Andronikos and Athanasia became monastics and eventually attained sainthood…