Bear All Challenges & Tribulations as Pathways to Salvation

And so let us be glad and bear with patience everything the world throws at us, secure in the knowledge that it is then that we are most in the mind of God.” ~St. Basil the Great

My Dear Spiritual ‘Ohana,

One of the common themes the Holy Fathers, Saints and Elders of the Church stress is for us to welcome all challenges and tribulations in our lives.  For without them, there is no salvation.  In Orthodoxy, we believe that salvation is an unending process up to the last breath we take on this earth.  We call this “Theosis.”  Theosis is the process of becoming God-like and is ongoing and continuous.  There is no “I am saved,” but rather we believe that “I am in the process of being saved.”  To say that “I am saved,” is too easy, presupposing that I have reached a point that I do not need to do anything else to be saved!  This is spiritually dangerous and reckless, for we can easily fall into pride by saying that “I am good to go, or I am fine where I am at, or I do not need to do anything else.”  When in fact, our Christian life is meant to be one of “askesis” or “spiritual athleticism.”  “Askesis” is a spiritual training, just as an athlete trains for whatever sport or athletic endeavor he/she undertakes.  A soccer player, for example, needs to constantly train in technique, strategy and also has to learn to work in conjunction with his/her teammates.  There is always room for improvement.  He/she does not simply get out on the field and “just kick the ball” and boast in being a great soccer player without continued training and improvement.  Same applies to so many, if not all, endeavors we pursue in life.  There is the endless need for constant improvement in all we do.

I am sure that you can all attest to all the challenges you currently face, each in your own personal lives.  In these times we live in, there are so many of them we face, collectively, as co-inhabitants of the earth, so much so, that it can be very overwhelming.  We have the pandemic, which none of us could have ever predicted its coming upon us and impact it would have on us for such an extended period of time.  When will this ever end?  We do not know! We have the ever-increasing frequency of catastrophic disasters that impact us due to the imbalance taking place to our fine and delicate ecosystems throughout the world, which are a result of continued pollution and failure, collectively, to be stewards of the earth that has been entrusted to us to care for, by God.  We are becoming more aware of our failure to be stewards of the world we live in.  Our challenge is to remain balanced and focused on what direction we are to go.  We know that we must make drastic changes to reverse the damage we have done to the fine balance of the environment.  It’s like we are constantly walking on a tight rope where, at any moment, we can plunder and lose our balance.  Keeping and maintaining the balance and focus in our lives is the “spiritual warfare” we go through as we maneuver through our daily lives as Christians.

Our answer to all our challenges and tribulations we face, as Christians, is to constantly turn to Christ and let our focus keep on turning towards and returning to Him.  After all, He so humbled Himself for us, to take on our flesh.  And by doing so, He is the “mark” and the “measure” for which we ought to strive to be as humans.  He shows us what it means to be truly human.  Our end-goal is to become as much like Him as we possibly can.  Is that easy?  No!

I leave you with a few quotes, through which I pray bring you much strength, as well as comfort and courage, as you struggle to live your lives as Christians, ever journeying to our fulfillment in God.

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander