Sunday, March 8, 2009

Confident Weeping


Today's reading from the Coptic Lectionary concerned the temptation of our Lord in the wilderness.

We have all at one time or another felt suddenly and overwhelmingly pressured by temptation.

At such times we feel squeezed between what we seemingly can't avoid and what we know is right. About such situations, Gregory Palamas writes, "A human being who does not endure courageously the unpleasant burdens of temptations, will never produce fruit worthy of the divine wine-press and eternal harvest."(1)

But how do we "endure courageously?"

Abba Moses was asked, "What should a man do in all the temptations and evil thoughts that come upon him?"

He said, "He should weep and implore the goodness of God to come to his aid, and he will obtain peace if he prays with discernment. For it is written, 'With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?'(Psalm 118:6)"(2)

In other words, we should acknowledge our desperate position and weep to God over it, while remaining utterly confident His deliverance will come. For the Christian, there is no contradiction between weeping and confidence.
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(1)Treatise on the Spiritual Life
(2)Ward, Sr. Benedicta. The Desert Christian: Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, p. 142