Brothers and Sisters,
Glory to Jesus Christ in all sufferings!
Suffering, Glory, Perfection
Romans 8:17; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Romans 8:18; For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
All forms of suffering is directly linked to Glory. Christians cannot compare the glory we will receive to suffering of this life. By the measure of which one suffers that same measure is meted out in Glory. Grumbling and cursing our infirmities and suffering brings God no glory so we must be thankful in all things knowing that God works all things to good to those that love Him. Read this verse our sufferings is directly related to the amount of glory we will recieve. More one suffers more glory one recieves. Suffering is good. If you are depressed and suffering, glory to God. Praise God in your weaknesses. Glorify Him and He will glorify you. I find helping people chases off depression.
Prayer is for our benfit and God answers prayers with one thing in mind: Will it progress us towards our salvation. If you are suffering then it is good because it is working towards your salvation. Praise God!
2 Corinthians 1:7; And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
Phillipians 3:10; That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
1 Peter 4:13; But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 2:20; For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
We are called to fellowship and know Christ through joining and partaking of His sufferings. Being a partaker of the divine nature means suffering. In some writings of the Church it appears when one is not suffering one is not partaking in His glory towards perfection. Some stories tell of people who cry out to God in dispair because they are not suffering and have it to good!
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
Hebrews 2:10; For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The captain of our salvation is made perfect through the sufferings of His Church. This is our call as Orthodox Christians. Let us rejoice and embrace our sufferings as unto glory unconceivable by the human mind perfecting the whole body of Christ. Let us join with others in their suffering and give comfort in that their glory is greater.
Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.
“Be Ye” is not a request of Jesus. He did not say “try to be perfect”. He did not mean make a “good honest effort” to be perfect. No, fortunately Jesus did not make Christianity easy. Jesus is quite specific. “BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT”.
How did Jesus answer this question? Jesus said unto him, “If thou WILT be PERFECT, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
This is the path to perfection. If one really desires to follow the Jesus of the Bible one must be willing to achieve this step of self emptying or “kenosis”.
Kenosis is achieved through our sufferings. We are to be humbled by suffering. Can God cause illness? Yes to humble us. I have a friend who has MS and he says it saved his life. He was pride filled and God humbled him to save him. "No Theosis without Kenosis" Saint Anthony the Great said I believe. Thus without self-emptying and following Christ to the Cross a person cannot be perfected in suffer. Suffering assists us in "self emptying".
We need to learn to embrace our sufferings for a higher unseen glory. Be thankful in all things this is the will of God for our lives. As one spiritual American ditty goes “No pain No gain” so it is with the orthodox Christian “No Pain No spiritual Gain”.
As far as the suffering of the world and atheist. I would say "Do you really want God controling every aspect of our lives?" "Dont go to Malasia today I am going to wipe it off the map". Do we really want God to control our free will to that extent? Or do we want God just to fix the bad things in life so we can ignore Him somemore?