St. Luke of Crimea: The Meaning of Sorrows
Continuously, people ask why the Lord God sends them sorrows and many times very great trials. It is very important for every Christian to understand that our sorrows are sent according to the will of God, Who is always good and saving. Most of the time, they are not sent to us as punishments for our sins, but in order for us re-orient our paths and our hearts, or they are sent as a response to requests that we offer to God. People many times expect God to accomplish what they ask in prayers to Him in the manner that they think is best. God, however, continuously responds to our prayers in a totally different manner, and not according to how they wished or could imagine.
If they would ask, for example, for God to give them humility, they might imagine that slowly, day by day, humility would grow within their hearts under the beneficial affection of God. The Lord, however, continuously works in a different way: He sends them an unexpectedly harsh blow, which wounds their pride and their ego and which humbles them. Frequently, our God sends afflictions, and we complain and in no way think that, the majority of the times, this is a great beneficence of God, and most likely is the response of God to our prayers, with which we entreated Him to strengthen our faith.
Do you know recognize that, many times, our Lord sends us terrible bodily afflictions and wounds our body in order to strengthen us spiritually? This occurred with the Venerable Pimen the Much-suffering, who lived in asceticism in the Monastery of the [Kiev] Caves, and whose whole life was found on the bed of pain, enduring an incurable sickness, and through this manner, he reached sanctity. Other people, who give great significance to earthly goods, seek from the Lord to increase their wealth. And the Lord responds to them with the destruction of their properties with fires, and in this manner, He helps to turn them away from their attachment to earthly things and from their greed, and to correct their deviations from the correct path, which is taught to us by the Lord's Beatitudes.
God treats us like His true sons, whom He chastens for their good. The sorrows that are sent to us by the Lord, we must receive as St. Peter says: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you." (I Peter 5:6). If we cannot, despite all our efforts, come to understand the reason that God sends us sorrows, then at least let us humble ourselves below the mighty hand of God, and He will lift us up at the proper time, in order for us to understand His paths, with which He is leading us for this reason. We must, with great humility and without the smallest complaining, accept all the trials and sorrows that are sent to us from God, having the humble conviction that, with these, God is guiding us, and not that He is pouring His wrath upon us. (Isaiah 27:4) We usually think that the Lord is angry with us, and this is why He is sending us sorrows. No. Never think that God is angry. "God is love." (I John 4:8). And perfect love is foreign to any form of injustice.
But many times, when our God gives us a harsh blow, through which He humbles us and then later exalts us, we complain against God. Do you understand, however, what a serious sin is complaining against God? When we complain against God, it means that we perceive Him as unjust, we perceive that He has not treated us properly and that He must act towards us in a different manner. However, is it not a serious sin to condemn God for injustice and to slander Him? See, therefore, how great a sin is complaining against God. Because of this: "Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile." (I Peter 1:17). We must pray greatly for our mistakes and for our impediments on our path to the Kingdom of the Heavens. But even more than that, we must have fear to break that great commandment of Christ: "Judge not, that you might not be judged." (Matthew 7:1). And complaining against God is not only judging God, but also condemning Him.
Let us lay aside judging those unfortunate people who willingly destroy themselves, whom our Lord Jesus Christ does not correct nor chasten, because they are not able to be corrected and are incurable. We only seek His help on our path towards salvation, that we might glorify Him and ever honor Him, together with His beginningless Father and the Lord Spirit. Amen.