November 2018 Letter
Christ has warned us that: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16: 33), but at the same time comforted us saying: “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33). And to know how to act during tribulations, let’s learn from HE Metropolitan Pakhomius:
“The First Book of Kings tells us about the prayer of Elijah when fleeing from Queen Jezebel: “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1Kin 19: 4). The story tells how Elijah was stressed when he was exposed to pain, for in our suffering we discover ourselves and our weaknesses, and discover God dealing with our weaknesses. Elijah the Prophet was a strong person, but in this hardship became very weak! In the midst of our tribulations, God does not deal with us according to our weaknesses, but rather shows greater tenderness towards us. Let’s look into Elijah’s story and contemplate on some points:
- The Bible says that: “he arose and ran for his life” (1Kin 19: 3). When man works for God he stays strong, but when he focuses on himself, becomes weak. Alike, he who focuses on himself at home, in service or at church, starts to clash with others. So it’s good to take care of ourselves, but only in Christ. For when a man focuses on himself, he loses everything.
- When a person looks at himself, he leaves behind his responsibilities and loses his grace. When St. John Chrysostom was persecuted by the Empress he refused to leave his service or abandon his people, but stood fast tolerating pain even to exile for the safety of the Church. In the midst of our hardships, we should stay in our positions for the sake of the Lord, just as Nehemiah, who met hardships when building the walls, said: “Should such a man as I flee?” (Neh 6: 11).
- When we are confronted with hardships, we need to calm down in our positions for some time. When we feel tired and burdened, we should resort to our private rooms, for when we are in distress, we need the power of solitude and calmness to ourselves. The Angel drove Elijah to Horeb – the mountain of the Lord – to calm down.
- God, many times in our distress seems different, showing no anger or rebuke, but rather shows us more love. For he does not deal with us according to our weaknesses, and does not respond to our sinful requests (take my life), but he sends his angel to comfort us. He does not send us a raven to carry us food only, but in moments of weakness sends us a tender heart, and send us aid to lead us in our weakness to the mountain of the Lord Horeb (mountain of commandments). When we lose our positivity God deal with us in a positive way.
- Let us remember amid the tribulation that we still have a responsibility. God ordered Elijah to return and anoint a king and a prophet!! So in distress do not ask something that disrupts the glory of God (take my life), but ask in submission: What Lord do you want me to do?
May the blessing of St. Mary, St. Mercurius and all martyrs & saints be with us all. Amen.
Belleville, November 1, 2018