H/T: Elder Ephraim Arizona (here)
Almost all attribute their conversion to some ordeal.
Sorrow is not nice. However, behind it, behind the pain, behind the sorrow, behind the test, lurks the blessing of God, the rebirth, the reforming of man, of family. Almost everyone attributes his/her conversion to some test. They believe everything goes well, then God takes their child, and then there is mourning, pain etc. Then comes the grace of God which overshadows them, making these people calm. They approach the Church, approach the confession, approach the priest. Thanks to that child they go to the Church. Their pain makes them to seek, to pray for repose, to request liturgies.
Pain relieves the heart and makes it receptive to the word of God, while earlier it was hard and unreceptive. For example, a man during his youthful exuberance thinks, “I am and no one else is”. There go the degrees, the glories, the health, the beauty and everything else. However, when he is laid in bed sick, he thinks differently. Vanity of vanity, everything is vanity. I may die, he thinks. What is the benefit of all these and he starts to think differently. It is like a man approaching him and tells him, “read this book and check what it says”. He hears a word of God and then he listens to it. And if you give him a book, his pain has already made his heart suitable and he opens the book and the Bible and reads it and thus starts the repose of man. And when he is healed, immediately then he stands up and lives carefully his life and does not live like before with pride and with the fantasy he had.
Sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue.
The sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue. Job was the best man on earth but God wanted to make him even better. Before he was tested, Job was not famous. As soon as he was tested and fought, struggled, crowned and became rich, after that began his glory to this day. His example is the most brilliant one and empowers every man that is being tested. If he was tested being a saint, so much more us who are sinners. The result was he was made holy and was given again years of life and blessed him doubly and thrice with what he had, thus becoming a bright example throughout the centuries and for him to relax and say: “As the Lord wished so it happened. May the name of the Lord be blessed”. He lowers his head and says: “God gave and God took” And even if He took my child, hasn’t God given him to me? He took it. Where is my child? In heaven? So what happens there? He reposes there.
Behind every test lurks the will of God and the benefit which naturally he could not see at that time, but with time he will know the benefit. We have many such examples.
Like also the Saints Andronicus and Athanasia. They were a couple. He was a jeweler of great wealth etc. Part of his profit from work was used to feed his family. Another part of his profit he gave to the poor and a third of his profit was lent to people who had no money, interest free. They had two happy daughters. One day both died from sickness. Both parents went to bury them. Athanasia, the unfortunate one, would cry inconsolably over their graves. So did Andronicus. With great pain he started for home. Poor Athanasia stayed behind to mourn over their graves. “My children” and “My children” she cried. The sun was setting and the cemetery was closing. In her sorrow she saw a monk coming to her and telling her: “Lady why are you crying?”
How could I not cry Father?” (She thought he was the priest of the cemetery). “I buried both my children, my two angels, I laid them in their graves and I and my husband are left alone. We have no more freshness anymore.
He tells her: “Your children are in paradise with the angels. They are in the joy and grace of God and you cry? Pity, and you are a Christian.
“So they live my children? Are they angels?”
Of course your children are angels”
He was the Saint of that Church. Finally both Andronicus and Athanasia became monastics and were sanctified.
Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Anthony’s – Arizona