Quick Links

Daily Readings

Daily Scripture Readings, Troparion and Kontakion

Read More

Holy Fathers

Selected quotes and teachings of the Holy Fathers

Read More


Learn about the lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church

Read More


On Suffering, Sorrow, Tribulations and Temptations:

The most striking proof that there is a devil in the world is that men do not feel, or feel very ittle (though some endeavor to do so) the mercies that God has bestowed upon them in the creation, guidance and redemption: the devil is a powerful antagonist to everything good and righteous.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

+ + +

Without testing even iron looks like steel, pewter looks like silver, bronze looks like gold and plain glass looks like crystal, but tempering shows their true worth. The same happens with people: many appear to be meek and humble, simple and good, religious, etc., while tribulations often reveal them to be malicious, and proud, and cruel-hearted, and greedy, and envious, etc.
Tribulations come in the form of loss and deprivation, grief, illness, disgrace, and those who endure the trials are found to be dependable candidates for the Kingdom of God, while those who are unable to endure are not dependable, because they still contain a large admixture of evil. Through suffering and woe in their lives, virtuous people become even more fortified in their virtue.

"Like a goldsmith, upon throwing gold into the furnace, leaves it to melt in the fire until he sees it attain the greatest purity, - says St. JohnChrysostom - so does the Lord allow the souls of men to suffer tribulations until they become pure and shining, and until they acquire great benefit from these temptations. If the goldsmith knows exactly how long he must keep the gold melting in the furnace and when to take it out, and never allows the gold to remain until it is spoiled or burned; even more so does God know, and when He sees that we have become purer, He delivers us from our tribulations, lest we stumble and fall. Let us not grumble and be faint of heart when something unexpected occurs, but let us allow the Lord to purify our soul as long as He wants; for He does it with great mercy and for our benefit." 

Suffering causes us to take stock, to look around, to ponder: are we living properly or have we, perhaps, wandered far away from the life prescribed to us by the Lord in His Gospel? St. John Chrysostome says: "When you see your woes multiplying, do not despair, but take heart. God allows them in orderto shatter your indifference, to wake you up from sinful slumber. Because in times of woe everything that is extraneous is cut off, all earthly things are forgotten, man becomes more ardent in his prayer, more earnest in his charity, and passions are more easily vanquished as they flee in the face of sorrow." "Moreover, - St. John notes elsewhere, - through the punishment and the tribulations which God sends us in this life, our future torment is greatly alleviated. Do you see how God uses all possible means so that we, even though we sin, would suffer a lighter punishment than we deserve, or would be delivered from it altogether?"

"Spiritual instruction," Moscow, 1906

+ + +

   The suffering and misfortune that the Lord allows to fall on the righteous is not the work of evil but a medicine, both for the righteous themselves and for those around them who understand that their suffering is sent from God for their good. The suffering that comes from the attacks of evil spirits on man, or as a consequence of sin, is evil. But the suffering that God allows to fall on men, in order to cleanse them completely from sin, pluck them out from under the devil's tyranny and bring them close to Himself - this purifying suffering neither comes from evil or is in itself evil, but is from God and for the good of men. 'It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statues' (Ps. 118:71), says the discerning King David.

Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich[Homilies, Vol. 2.]
+ + +

  The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the cross is concealed in the sufferings of the cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the cross. For, as the Apostle says, `As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

St. Isaac of Syria [The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria] 
+ + +

 What health and sickness are to the body, virtue and wickedness are to the soul, and knowledge and ignorance to the intellect. The greater our devotion to the practice of the virtues, the more our intellect is illumined by knowledge. It is in this way that we are accounted worthy of mercy, that is, through the fifth commandment: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy' (Mt. 5:7). The merciful person is he who gives to others what he has himself received from God, whether it be money, or food, or strength, a helpful word, a prayer, or anything else that he has through which he can express his compassion for those in need. At the same time he considers himself a debtor, since he has received more than he is asked to give.

St. Peter of Damaskos