The Power of God in Times of Misfortune
"The wondrous love of God toward man is recognized when man is in misfortunes that are destroying his hope. Here God manifests His power for man's salvation. For man never recognizes the power of God in tranquility and freedom." -- St. Isaac the Syrian
God bless you all. Good evening.
Many of us have failed to recognize that during such challenging times we need to call upon the power of God to restore the orientation of our hearts, minds, and lives to Christ. If we pursue a solution to the misfortunes that face us without first calling on the Name of our Lord and the power of God, we surely will fail. We must, in times of misfortune, seek the help of God, our hope. Throughout the history of the Church, the Faithful have prayed and fasted. Conflicts have been resolved, persecutions have stopped, and arguments have ceased by divine intervention because of their sincere prayers for assistance.
For a number of years now I have been blessed to work in the area of Christian education: The elementary school level, the middle school level, the high school level, the college level, and even the postgraduate level. It's important for us all to understand that when we engage in a theological discussion, the purpose of the discussion is to bring our brothers and sisters in Christ toward a deeper experience of repentance and progress toward the Kingdom of God. I want to emphasize that as clergy and teachers, we should not create an obstacle course for students under our care. Rather, while calling upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we should clearly show students the Path toward the fulness of the Kingdom and, serving as good examples, guide them along the way.
A few days ago, one of our clergy told me he took a theological class wherein the professor began the course by informing the students that it was the job of all the staff to scathe the students. If the staff did not scathe them, the professor insisted, then the faculty members were not doing their job. It has been my experience that the effort to draw our Faithful toward the Kingdom of God shouldn't involve an intention to scathe them. The evil one intends to scathe people, but the evil one shouldn't receive any help from us. We should, however, seek first the Kingdom of God, call down the Holy Spirit in the midst of the Faithful, and serve as suitable icons of faithfulness. In short, as Orthodox Christians, should we concern ourselves with our own salvation and help others in their pursuit of the same. I believe it's very important for us to be a Simon of Cyrene amongst the clergy and laity, especially to our students seeking the Kingdom of God.
One good professor would challenge students, but encouraged those students to attend the divine services often and offered students his help if the challenges seemed too heavy to bear or they were otherwise tempted with despondency. Another caring teacher would invite students for tea at his house and work with them to encourage the students in their study of the New Testament. (I had to drink a lot of tea.) As bishops, priests, clergy, and teachers, we have to remember that while we are mentoring people, we must simultaneously be calling on God's power. If we fail to call on God's power while working with students under our care, and our educational efforts are unsuccessful, we fail ourselves, too, alongside our students.
Once again, as mentioned in an earlier message this evening, we give thanks to God for all of you and especially for the opportunities that are presented to us to open our eyes to the Power of God. Please pray for me, a sinner.
Yours in Christ,