We are thankful to Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, who gave us his kind permission to publish these extracts on our site.
The Mystery of Sorrow
“It will steady our faith and help us to trust in times of suffering and trial if we understand that nothing is purposeless, nothing accidental, that nothing is meant to harm us, that everything is intended to help us toward noble character and fuller, richer life.”
Sorrow sometimes staggers us. There is a mystery about it which we cannot solve. No one can answer this question definitely, to say just why this good man suffers so sorely, yet we know that blessings and good will surely come out of the experience. Possibly he is suffering that his own life may be made more pure, more radiant. Possibly he is permitted to suffer as a witness to Christ, his patience, trust, and joy being the fruit of the spirit in him. In some way at least we know that pain is meant to yield blessing-to him who endures it, or to those who look on and note the courage and victoriousness with which it is borne. Of one thing we may always be sure-it is because God loves us that we are called to permitted to suffer.” (p. 15).
A Christian Should Never Be Discouraged
“Good cheer is a Christian duty. A Christian should never be discouraged, should never doubt the outcome of good from all that seems evil. A wailing, a complaining, a fearing Christian is failing his Lord. In countless ways does the word of Christ in the heart reveal itself in life. It makes shining faces. It makes men patriotic and women patient and kind. It blesses houses; it enriches and beautifies lives.” (p. 22).
God Loves To Be A Comforter
“God loves to be a comforter. His heart is ever tender and compassionate toward human pain and suffering. When we look into the Bible we find it full of comfort from beginning to end. On every page God is trying to get men to believe that He loves them, that He is their friend, that He wants to do good. There is not a chapter in the Scriptures which does not in some way reveal or declare divine mercy. That is what makes the Bible such a dear and precious book to the despondent, the struggling, the disappointed, the wronged, the bereaved, the lonely. The Bible is like a mother’s bosom, to lay one’s head upon in a time of pain and distress.” (p. 41).
Christ Gives Rest For The Soul
“The rest that Christ gives is the rest in the soul-not external rest. One may have it in all its sweetness and fullness, and yet have to toil unceasingly, and endure continual sufferings and pain. Some of the best Christians the world has ever known have been the greatest sufferers, but meanwhile nothing has been able to break their rest.” (p.24).
Christ Will Fill Us With Himself
“St. Paul tells us here also that he rejoiced in his thorn. He did not at first. He cried to heaven to have it removed. But when his Master told him that he needed to keep it, that he needed it, that it had in it a blessing for him, he chafed no longer. Indeed, he made friends with it quickly, accepted it, and stopped complaining about it. That is the only right and sensible thing to do with any disagreeable, uncongenial, or painful thing we find we cannot have removed. It is God’s will that it should be in our life for some good reason which He knows. We should get the victory over it by taking it to our heart, be receiving it as coming from Christ. No matter how it hurts us, if we accept it in this way it will leave benediction in our life. God sends some of our greatest blessings to us in our thorns, and it will be a sad thing if we thrust them away and miss them. There are many who are so full of themselves that they have no room for Christ. If only they could come empty, empty of self, He would fill them with Himself, and then they would have untold power for good in the world. He knows when pain is needful, when loss is the only way to gain, when suffering is necessary to hold us at His feet. He gives us trouble in order to bless us in some way, and we shall always be losers when we chafe or reject our thorn.” (p. 45).