When we suffer, it is not as though God’s providence has failed. Indeed, this is his providence for us. There is healing there for us, in that suffering, if we would but embrace it. The waves and the winds terrify us, but let us also recall that our Savior sleeps within the boat.
And when such suffering is brought to us by other people, even those nearer us than our own breathing, we do well to remember that this is a spiritual struggle for us, an opportunity to fight in grace the inner battle of repentance. But we do even better to remember that the one opposing us also has faced a spiritual struggle in his choices and actions, and he has lost that battle and is captive to the only enemy we have. We must, therefore, struggle all the more to win the victory of this struggle by grace. For if we fail, who, then, will intercede for our brother? “Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he does.”
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
Sometimes we can receive confirmation of an insight in a remarkable way. The above comments came from some things I was thinking about this morning after morning prayers. Earlier this evening, some twelve hours later, I happened to serendipitously dip into a book on contemporary elders and came across this passage:
Every person who insults us, wrongs us, slanders us, who wrongs us in any way, is a brother who fell into the hands of the worker of evil, the devil. When we challenge this brother we must feel great sorrow for him, sympathize with him, and beseech God fervently and quietly to strengthen us during the difficult hour of our trial and to have mercy on our brother who became a victim of the devil. God will help us as well as him.
–Elder Porphyrios, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit, 167-168.