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Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Fruits of Pain-An Orthodox Approach

 An Excerpt from The Book "The Pain"By Georgia P.Kounavi

1.Sanctification and Salvation
 "Affliction,you are a purgative"
(Gregory the Theologian,Sermon 37:On Patience)

The fruit of pain and of the death of Christ on the tree (wood) of the Cross is the redemption and salvation that was offered to us.Pain is the seed that falls in the plowed soul,and grows and bears fruits "in patience"; the fruits are the sanctification and the salvation. Without plowing and sowing there is no produce,nor harvest.But in order to arrive at the harvest,we must pass through the sieve of the test of tribulations,slanders,and persecutions(Luke 22:31).

From the fruit,the benefit and blessing of pain shall become evident.Because the fruit displays the quality and the thoughts of the heart.When pain is rejected, and its benefits are not valued,it  may"bear fruit of death",while it should and must "bear fruit to God" (Rom.7:4 ff.).
Then it bears the grapes of salvation and not wild grapes (Isa. 5:1-7),that is,denial and alienation.Our union with Christ through pain should be fruitful and fertile.Perhaps before we were in pain we might not have had fruits of virtue and love,or probably very few.Our Christ is the great Father and unique farmer of our souls,who tests"the hearts and minds",and cultivates us with the plow of pain and purges us as the "vine that bears fruit".This happens so that we also"may bear more fruit"(John 15:2)of love,patience,goodness,,faith,hope,sanctification,and salvation.

This purification does not happen only once.It happens continuously,so that we may bring forth fruit an"hundredfold".                                                                                        

Pruning is painful to the tree,but is necessary for its fruition and welfare:Dry and dead branches are cut off.This is the Godly method for our sanctification and our redemption,that is,the overabundance of virtue.But this presupposes our constant catharsis through pain and patience (Luke 8:15).Then there will come"the fruits of righteousness,which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God"(Phil, 1:11; John 15:8),Because wisdom and the cultivation given by pain become the source of life,that is,the source of love.
Love is life itself,since"God is love"(IJohn4:8)and"the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life"(Prov, 11:30).Thus pain becomes love that is produced by the power of Christ.This love that sanctifies and saves is multiplied,it is the love that evolves into all kinds of virtues(Gal, 5:22 ff.).This love that ripens via suffering is "sweet fruit",but not only to our taste (Song of Songs 2:2), but primarily to the heart; it is the love of salvation,of sanctification,of redemption.
It is an expiated love, cleansed in the fire of pain.And when the soul is purified by tribulation and pain,then it is like a bed of flowers,full of the aroma of the Spirit.Then it is prepared,ready to receive the beloved Lord Jesus.And He,the most beloved One,will come down"to His garden and eat of its choicest fruits"(Song of Songs 4:16).

"And seek my face,and in their distress they seek Me saying:
"Come,let us return to the Lord,for..... He may heal us....
He may heal us..."(Hosea 5:15;6:2).
Thus in the midst of pain and through the Holy Spirit,the believer shares the divine holiness itself.Because when the soul is purified by tribulation,the Lord Jesus gives it sanctification.And furthermore,He gives it His glory that He received from the Father. "And for their sake I consecrate Myself,that they also may be consecrated in truth"(John 17:19).But also the Lord Himself shall "be glorified in His saints"(II Thess. 1:10; 2;14).Thus a Christian,broken and contrite from pain,yet reinforced by his faith and his love for Christ,enters gradually "into the sanctuary of God"(Ps.72:17).He learns how to accept pain as the revelation of a divine plan that leads to redemption and sanctification,to salvation and deification.
He discovers its purifying value,which is similar to the fire that cleans and purifies the metal from its rust(Jer, 9:7; Ps, 64:10).

Sickness exists sometimes for the cleansing of sins,and sometimes to humble our mind.When our good and all- gracious Lord and Master sees people too lazy in their exercises ,He lays their flesh low with sickness,an exercise that gives them no labour;and this,towards sanctification.And sometimes it also cleanses the soul from evil thoughts or passions" (John Climacus).

In the same manner the soul is cleansed,brightened,and purified in the fire and the furnace of pain."Visible,external pride is cured by grim conditions,such as poverty and sorrow;but invisible inner pride can be healed only by Him who is eternally Invisible.The deer is the destroyer of all visible snakes,but humility destroys the spiritual ones".

Taken from the Book "The Pain"An Orthodox Scriptural and
Patristic Approach,By Georgia P.Kounavi, Apostoliki Diakonia.
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