Author Topic: Being Tempted Beyond What We Can Bear  (Read 77 times)

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Being Tempted Beyond What We Can Bear
« on: April 08, 2018, 01:17:55 AM »
According to Met.Hilarion Alfeyev in The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, St. Isaac "emphasizes that God does not send us temptations which would exceed our ability to bear; he always adjusts the force and quantity of them to human strength." (p. 96) Such trials are sent to people who are "'the friends of God, that is to say, the humble'... not in punishment, but with a view to their spiritual progress." (p 97) On the other hand, "temptations that come from the devil are sent to 'the enemies of God, that is to say, the proud'," and "temptations of this sort may exceed the limit of human strength and lead to a spiritual fall." (p. 98) Met. Hilarion goes on:

A person who tempts God by his pride and laxity can be delivered into the hands of the devil for a trial or temptation. In this case God's anger flames up against him:

"You have not yet experienced the sternness of the Lord, when he changes from his right hand, full of kindness, to his left hand, exacting his due to those who abuse him--how angry he burns, and how filled he is with zeal at the time when this has been aroused. He will not turn back, even though you beg him at length, once he has been aroused to this; rather, he burns like a furnace in his anger." (Isaac of Nineveh, 'The Second Part', Chapters IV-XLI, 31, 10)

It is very rare for Isaac to speak of God's anger--which does not mean a punishment or requital for sins. As we saw in Chapter I, the idea of divine requital was totally alien to Isaac: God is not angry at someone because he feels insulted or because he burns with the desire for vengeance. Rather he shows visible signs of anger, changing from his right hand to the left, so that a human person can experience the feeling of abandonment and may then be converted to God with a whole heart.

It is precisely for this purpose that one can be 'delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh.' (1 Cor. 5:5) The devil cannot tempt a person at all unless this is allowed by God... Therefore, both the temptations that come from God and those that come from the devil are allowed by God and so can serve one's salvation and spiritual progress.

-- The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, p. 99

So, I have a couple questions about this I wanted to get your thoughts on.  This all seems to fit together with 1 Cor. 10:13,  which says that "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." However, do things like suicides, or those who die from the immense physiological weight of despair or grief, also fall under what is being said in this passage? Do we conclude that God gave them an escape opportunity, and they simply chose not to use it? Or would it be better to see such cases as exceptions that better understood in another way? Do the temptations of the devil spoken of, which "may exceed the limit of human strength and lead to a spiritual fall," come into play here, as far as understanding such deaths? Every fiber of my being pushes me away from such ideas, both because it seems like simplistic 'victim blaming,' and also because it would readily lead to the unthinking blanket condemnation and stigmatizing of people in certain situations regardless of the details involved. But what do you think, how should all this be understood?

Offline Volnutt

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Re: Being Tempted Beyond What We Can Bear
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 01:25:59 AM »
Good questions. Wish I had something to add.
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