WHEN YOU DECIDE TO EMBARK ON A GOOD DEED, PREPARE YOURSELF TO CONFRONT TRIALS…
By Abba Isaac the Syrian
When you decide to embark on a good deed, you must first prepare yourself for the trials that you will encounter. Because, when the enemy sees you beginning to fervently live a God-pleasing life, he usually attacks with various and terrible trials that will render you cowardly and make you abandon your good intention. And it is by God’s concession that you will be confronted by trials, so that you will persistently knock on the door (of His mercy) - for fear of the sufferings, but also that the remembrance of Him may be rooted inside you so that you may approach Him with your prayers, thus sanctifying your heart through the incessant remembrance of Him. And when you do invoke Him, He will hearken to you, so that you will thus learn that God is the One Who redeems you, and will then feel the presence of Him Who had fashioned you, strengthening and protecting you, because the shelter and the providence of God embrace all men. However, these things do not become visible, except only to those who have cleansed themselves of sin and who continuously concentrate on God. God’s help and providence are in fact exceptionally revealed, when those cases suffer extreme trials for the sake of the truth, because then they are able to feel it very clearly, by the sense of the Nous.
There are some, who had seen it (the help) with their physical eyes – depending on the trials they had undergone – and had thus ascertained God’s solidarity and were motivated by it into acts of bravery – as we have learnt of Jacob and Jesse and the Three Youths and the Apostle Peter and the other saints who had struggled for Christ. To them, it (divine help) was more than obvious, as it came in human form, giving them thus courage and preparing them for the struggle for piety. But the Fathers also, who had lived in the desert and had driven demons away from there -and themselves had become the domiciles of angels - holy angels constantly appeared to them, and in every way helped them and stood by them in everything, supporting them and ridding them of the trials that the savage demons caused them to undergo. But even today, God’s help does not distance itself from those who had wholly dedicated themselves to the works that please Him; He is also close to all those who invoke Him. (Abba Isaac)