Friday, October 15, 2010

Suffering - Part Four - Dealing with it

There are many ways in which people deal with suffering.  Certainly this isn't new information to anyone.  Excessive drinking, drug use, isolation.  Some are very good at concealing their sufferings and some are not.   I suppose it depends on the person and the situation.  Like I have said before, I'm no trained professional, just an observer.

Also, as I mentioned in a prior post, no one is immune to suffering.  Even if you have had a minor illness, you have suffered a bit.  Or perhaps not even a physical suffering, maybe some sort of other disappointment in your life.  You cannot live on this planet and not have a time when something did not go your way.  It seems to me that sometimes the smallest of disappointments can have monumental effects on your health.   An unkind word to you as a child can sometimes hang with you for a lifetime unfortunately.  I don't agree with the saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."  A broken bone will hurt but will eventually heal, however an unkind word can hurt much longer and may never heal.  We really need to be mindful on how we speak to each other and teach our children to do the same.  Bullying is no joke and kids are killing themselves.

Realizing that this blog is a public forum, I am not going to talk about myself. Quite frankly it's none of your business.  God knows, I know, some people close to me know.   Some people are comfortable talking about their lives publicly, but I'm not.

I really don't know where to go with this other than to say that healing from these sufferings is found with God.  Sufferings will never go away entirely, disappointments will never cease in this life. But the hurt and the healing of these things can be found with God, and if you are Christian, this healing is specifically made possible by Jesus Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection. We find this in the Old Testament "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:5.  And in the New Testament "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed." 1 Peter 2: 23-25.  In other words, it is called salvation.

Salvation in the Orthodox Christian Church is a little bit different than what some people think.  And not different in an opposite direction, but different in that it goes a little bit deeper than the popular definition.

On the top of this blog I have posted something about salvation from the perspective of an Orthodox Christian priest.  If you are interested, click here.  Some of you may agree with this, and some may not.  America is a free country (Thank God) and we all have the right to our own opinions.   I simply offer this explanation as food for thought.

God bless you all and have a great day.


Chris said...

The Church Fathers give us insight into how we can use illness and the acceptance of mortality (death) to grow in Christ. St Ilias the Presbyter wrote: "Suffering deliberately embraced cannot free the soul totally from sin unless the soul is also tried in the fire of suffering that comes unchosen. For the soul is like a sword: if it does not go 'through fire and water' (Psalm 66:12, LXX) -- that is, by suffering deliberately embraced and suffering that comes unchosen -- it cannot but be shattered by the blows of fortune" (Ilias the Presbyter, Philokalia III). We have to acquire an attitude of embracing both illness and the inevitable death of earthly life as part of God's divine will for us. This is true not only for the sick, but also their loved ones who share in the suffering. In those cases where a healing does occur, it happens so that we may love God even more.
Sometimes physical sickness is necessary to heal the soul. St. Maximus the Confessor wrote, "Suffering cleanses the soul infected with the filth of sensual pleasure and detaches it completely from material things by showing it the penalty incurred as a result of its affection for them. This is why God in His justice allows the devil to afflict men with torments." The acceptance of our illness and death as God's will is one means by which we embrace the saving grace of Christ. This is a hard saying to accept, but those who have suffered in Christ testify to its truth. Could we not allow that sometimes God understands what we do not understand?
The subordination of physical to spiritual healing is derived from the Epistle of James. St. James said: Is there any one among you suffering? Let him pray ... Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 4.13 - 15).
The distinction between spiritual and physical healing is revealed liturgically as well. Orthodox Christians perform the Mystery of Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body and for forgiveness of sins. It is usually celebrated during Wednesday of Holy Week, but can be performed any time. During the service epistle and gospel readings are read, prayers are said, oil is blessed, and each worshipper is anointed with the holy oil as the priest says: "The blessing of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ: for the healing of soul and body ... " e prayer of the blessing of the oil illustrates the goal of physical healing: that those anointed can glorify God and thus be spiritually healed. The prayer in part reads:
O Lord, who through thy mercies and bounties heals the disorders of our souls and bodies: Do thou Thyself, O Master, also sanctify this oil, that it may be effectual for those who are anointed therewith, unto healing and unto relief from every passion, of every defilement of flesh and spirit, and every ill; that thereby may be glorified Thine all holy Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Desert Dweller said...


That was one hell of an awesome comment! Wow!

The Sacrament of Healing in the Orthodox Church (also called the Mystery of Holy Unction as you mentioned) is one that gets frequently ignored. Maybe it is because it is more commonly found in the midst of Holy Week. I have heard some Orthodox parishes who do this during all the major fasting seasons in the Church.

This beautiful sacrament of Christ is completely scriptural as you pointed out, James 5:13-15, and is a very important part of our salvation (healing!) in this life.

The epistle of James is my favorite BTW!

Thanks for the other stuff you mentioned too. Dang, you make me look like an amateur. : )

Chris said...

Dang! We are all amateurs...