Orthodox Thought for the Day


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fear only to grieve the Lord

From Abbot Nikon in Letters to Spiritual Children:

You seem to be disappointed that years pass and you are still unsettled. All this comes from worldliness and the prince of this world.  He is trying to frighten you.  He confuses your thoughts, suggests various fears, and lies, endless lies, thereby giving himself away on all fronts.

What is the essence of Christianity?  This--that the All-mighty, All-knowing Creator of the Universe has such love and compassion for man, such care for him and his salvation, that He gave up His Only-Begotten Son to shame, the Cross and death.  He cares not only for mankind as a whole, but for every person individually; each and every minute He holds him in His hand, protecting him from visible and invisible foes, granting him wisdom through other people, books, and life's circumstances.  If it is necessary to chastise a person in order to instruct him or to prevent him from falling into a worse mishap, He does so with mercy, and if a person is able to accept this in the right spirit, He rewards him greatly, as though He feels sorry for having issued the punishment.  Those whose inner vision has begun to clear can see God's amazing Providence over man in things both great and small. And so it is.  If for man's sake God sacrificed that which He loved most--His Son--then how can He begrudge anything: even the whole universe is nothing compared to such a sacrifice.  The Lord does not hold back anything, especially from those who yearn for Him, who try to keep His word, who feel compunction after every committed sin, seeing this as a breach of His will, as inattentiveness towards Him, as ingratitude and lack of love towards Him.

Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out, (John 6:37).  The Lord rejoices over every person who longs for Him immeasurably more than a mother rejoices over displays of love from her own child.  For this reason, do not fear the future.  “God is with us,” today, tomorrow and always.  Fear only to grieve Him through some form of sin.  If in our weakness we fall into some wrong, let us repent and the Lord will forgive us as long as we do not consciously choose evil, attempt to justify ourselves or murmur against God.  Fear nothing.  Be bold to bring to the Lord all your troubles, confusion, fears, hurts from the demons and people.  He both desires and knows how to relieve you of these and to free you from them when this will be most beneficial for you.

Do not trust in yourself and in people.  Trust in God's word, the Gospel.  Study the Gospel through your own life experience.  Life in Christ will give you such fullness, such an understanding of everything, such spiritual joy, steadfastness--that the life of worldly people will seem (as indeed it is) of little value, uninteresting, impoverished, pitiable, frivolous, full of insignificant squabbles, unhappiness and often great misfortunes.  You are fortunate.  Treasure this.  Thank God for this, and He will multiply His goodness towards you many times over for your gratitude, as much as you are able to contain.  Indeed, I hope this shall come to be!  May the Lord keep you and bless you.

This beautiful meditation comes from the book Letters to Spiritual Children published by Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society in New York in 1997.

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