Don’t Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live In

Dont Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live Inby Fr. Dimitry Shishkin –
Whatever may happen, we must not succumb to melancholy, but on the contrary, we must resist it with faith, courage and patience

According to statistics, about seventy-five percent of our compatriots [in Russia] were baptized in the Orthodox Church. But the spirit that many of us possess, alas, is far from Christian. This is the spirit of this world with its lack of faith, relaxation and pride.

Now, succumbing to the influence of this spirit, Christians are gradually losing courage, the sense of belonging to the spirit of Christ; and when faced with inevitable problems of life, they begin to grumble, complain and plunge headlong into the abyss of their sufferings. This is also facilitated by the ideology of extreme individualism (which has spread recently), when a person considers himself, his moods and feelings to be the most important thing in life. Hence, a relaxed self-pity and even painful relishing of one’s suffering.

Of course, we are living in a special time. Sometimes it seems that it is really apocalyptic. We are living in a global crisis—not only economic, but also spiritual, the consequences of which are still unclear. And if one’s faith is not strong, this only adds anxiety and concern.

But firstly, no one knows about the times or the seasons (Acts 1:7), and perhaps after the current global crisis, years and decades of a more or less calm and peaceful life await us. And, secondly, whatever may happen, we must remember that we are Christians and must endure all our misfortunes and troubles in a Christian way—that is, endure everything with faith and gratitude with readiness and determination.

The Apostle Paul said amazing words in one of his epistles (2 Cor. 1:8-11). He talked about how he went through an extremely hard period, so he despaired even of life, but he considered himself worthy of death and accepted all troubles (just think about it!) as God’s mercy in comparison with what he “deserved”. And, having the sentence of death in himself, the apostle trusted not in himself, but in God, Which raises the dead. Here is the courage, determination and genuine example of Christian perseverance, which we all must imitate!

As for the current trials and tribulations, such as the pandemic, inflation and other things, we have an answer from the Lord Himself. It refers to the revolts and turmoil of the end times, but it applies to our circumstances as well. The Lord says that it is not sorrows themselves that are terrible for a person, but the harm that they can cause to a relaxed and careless soul.

That is why the Lord addresses us: Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life (Lk. 21:34). And then He calls on us: Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass (Lk. 21:36). That is, it is not difficulties and sorrows themselves that should be avoided, but their destructive consequences for the soul.

Of course, there are painful and inexplicable states of despondency, sadness and melancholy, when it seems that demons have taken up arms against the soul, inspiring blues and gloom. Well, so what? Why should we be surprised? After all, we are all soldiers of Christ, which means that despondency, sorrow and anguish must be repulsed by the full armor of strong hope for God’s help with patience and prayer, and even by gratitude to God, which, according to St. John Chrysostom is the surest remedy against the demons.

Whatever may happen, we must not succumb to melancholy, but on the contrary, we must resist it with faith, courage and patience, and then, after a time, consolation, relief, and joy will certainly come from the Lord—as an earnest of future joy that awaits all that shall endure unto the end (Mt. 24:13). And even while speaking about the most distressing end times of human history, the Lord calls on us: Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh (Lk. 21:28).

HT: Orthodox Christianity

Dont Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live In

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1 thought on “Don’t Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live In”

  1. Certainly, an element of complete surrender is required in these times. A surrender of faith in the fact that God’s plan will be made manifest no matter how debauched and depraved the world becomes. The “surrender” aspect seems to be the easiest initial step—to soulfully repudiate the evils of the world and fall trustingly into the Light of Christ—but the entire process is difficult indeed. Entire empires and societies have risen and fallen countless times in human history, accompanied by unfathomable atrocities; nothing new is occurring on the face of this earth in that respect. Yet, this is not a comforting thing for the average person to realize. It would seem that we never learn, as a species supposedly made in God’s image.

    To my mind, the most important thing believers need to pray for in these times is Holy Wisdom. We need to beg for it. The more we are able to discern and understand some of the reasons for our darkening atmosphere, the more we will be prepared to nurture the virtues of compassion and, indeed, patience for our misguided fellow persons, Christian and otherwise. Yet, we must also stand and speak bravely for the Truth, for Christ, against the bitter tide of contempt and nihilism that is being directed increasingly at believers. We cannot be “on the fence” or lukewarm in our approach to the overwhelming flood of sin and obscenity and sacrilege. This courageous stance begins at home, between husband and wife, between parents and children—particularly children, who are in the most danger of being neglected spiritually, even if the neglect is unintentional. Then, we must not betray the Gospel when confronted with our communities. Fight against the evil with firm but peaceful vigor.

    And pray. Pray as never before.

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