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Enduring Temptation with humility by St. Dorotheos of Gaza

Enduring Temptation by St. Dorotheos of Gaza

Ευθύμιος ο Μέγας_-Санкт Евфимий Великий _ Saint Euthymius the Great-_eftimie_cel_mare6Abba Poemen used to say very accurately that the signs of a true monk make their appearance in time of temptation.[ 1] For a monk, truly setting out to serve Our Lord, must be wise enough to prepare his soul for temptations, [2] lest he at any time become estranged [from the Lord] or be overwhelmed by what comes upon him. And he must believe that nothing happens apart from God’s providence. In God’s providence everything is absolutely right and whatever happens is for the assistance of the soul. For whatever God does with us, He does out of His love and consideration for us because it is adapted to our needs. And we ought, as the Apostle says, in all things to give thanks for His goodness to us,[3] and never to get heated up or become weak-willed about what happens to us, but to accept calmly with lowliness of mind and hope in God whatever comes upon us, firmly convinced, as I said, that whatever God does to us, He does always out of goodness because He loves us, and what he does is always right. Nothing else could be right for us but the way in which He mercifully deals with us…

For to Him all things are possible; with God nothing is impossible. God, we know, loves and takes care of what He has fashioned. He is the fountain of wisdom and He knows what to do to promote our welfare and nothing is beyond His power. Hence we must be convinced that all He does, He does for our benefit and we ought to receive it with gratitude, as we said before, as coming from a beneficent and loving Master – and this even if some things are distressing, for all things happen by God’s just judgment and He Who is merciful does not overlook what is wrong nor does he give life to our tribulations. Often a man in doubt about this will say, ‘What if a man in difficult circumstances does something sinful because of the affliction he is suffering? How can he be sure that the affliction happens to him for his own good?’

God does not allow us to be burdened with anything beyond our power of endurance, and therefore, when difficulties come upon us we do not sin unless we are unwilling to endure a little tribulation or to suffer anything unforeseen. As the Apostle says, ‘God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able [to endure].’[4] But we are men who have no patience and no desire for a little labor and [no desire] to brace ourselves to accept anything with humility. Therefore we are crushed [by our difficulties]. The more we run away from temptations, the more they weigh us down and the less are we able to drive them away. Suppose a man for some reason dives into the sea: if he knows the art of swimming, what does he do when a great wave comes along? He ducks under until it goes past and then he goes on swimming unharmed. But if he is determined to set himself against it, it pushes him away and hurls him back a great distance, and when again he begins to swim forward another wave comes upon him, and if again he tries to swim against it, again it forces him back, and he only tires himself out and makes no headway. But if he ducks his head and lowers himself under the wave, as I said, no harm comes to him and he continues to swim as long as he likes. Those who go on doing their work this way when they are in trouble, putting up with their temptations with patience and humility, come through unharmed. But if they get distressed and downcast, seeking the reasons for everything, tormenting themselves and being annoyed with themselves instead of helping themselves, they do themselves harm.

1. Apo Poemen 13; PG 65:325B; CS 59:142.
2. Wis. 2:1
3. 1 Thess. 5:18
4. 1 Cor. 10:13
From: EP Wheeler, Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings, Kalamazoo (MI): Cistercian Publications, 1977, pp. 192-200.
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/11/enduring-temptation-by-st-dorotheos_18.html
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