Why is their Suffering?

An Introduction – in part!

  Inasmuch as many of you are members of the various Yahoo groups that we have (primarily three of them), and therefore will have received this message already, some of you are not and some of you are not part of any "church" group whatsoever, but I hold you in the bosom of my heart as members of a spiritual family - - - and to my way of thinking, the message I send you is important to meditate upon for it is a message of experience in my own unworthy life to a very substantial degree...  I know that Rev. Dr. Dana Renee (aka: Rev. Pistol Pack'n Mama - our Deaconess in Deming, NM) would probably opine that it answers much to her way of thinking as to why "stress" is so much involved in my own unworthy life and the lives of many others as well...

      A Question about Suffering was sent to me privately and I have begun replying which will be posted at our web site of www.apostle1.com later this week.  But there is something more I would add to what I am writing about and hope that while I think it important enough to interrupt my writings, by adding this to all of you who are clergy in spirit and truth, know that it is a vulnerability that afflicts many if they do not heed this particular advice.

          There are some who may take issue with me for saying this, but… He (clergyman) or She (a nun) who are spiritual guides in this life over the well-being (material and spiritual) of another is not a good example for others if their concerns are to 'rule'. 

           If one is a spiritual father in the vineyard of this life for the life to come even if you have only one other under your care, or more, take to heart the worry and heartaches of concern for those under you as though you are their own much the same as a Mother or Father does for their children. 

          One worries about their needs both material: mental well being, physical health, their spiritual guidance and much more.  I tell you truly, if you are a spiritual father in the vineyard of this life, each monk, each deacon, each priest, even each bishop is your concern and your affair.  I know this to be true of my own self as a Metropolitan and Archbishop. I do worry about the material and spiritual health of each one who is under my omophor of this jurisdiction, yes even those who are bishops for while being a Metropolitan and an Archbishop, the state of one's condition is my concern for God Himself, by and through Jesus Christ, has entrusted their very survival to me. 

        Inasmuch as we are Catacomb clergy in the vineyard of this life, the quantity of material things is not of my concern as is the quality of their mental and spiritual well being.  I have not been the best I should be for myself also lacks in many things, but I can only give them what I know to be true while using "Hope" and ability to Pray for them while giving them the best of my own understandings as a guide.  It is one of the main reasons why I read as much about the ancient ones and their spiritual and material struggles when they were in this life. 

         It is this that makes for, I believe, an aspect of a true spiritual struggler in this life... 

        If one is just a monk or nun without authority, have the same concern for those who are your brothers and sisters as though they are truly your relation by blood or other family connection, for in sprit, they are your family who are on the ladder of Divine Ascent too. 

+Joseph Thaddeus the most unworthy repentant one and fool for Jesus Christ in the vineyard of this life.

Metropolitan Archbishop, Archabbot, Primate

Main E-Mail: thaddeus@apostle1.com

E-Mail: apostlethaddeus@yahoo.com

E-Mail: apostlethaddeus@hotmail.com

 

          Blessings to many of you who may eventually read this missive, Blessings indeed!

          There is no place in this world in which we can hide from our sins, our faults and frailties no matter who we are.  And there is no hierarch in the church world wide that can be considered equal to or above our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

          For it is that while any one of us who continue in this life for the life to come; we must do battle within our very selves to fight the fight against the many and numerous passions of the flesh, the vices that constantly assault us in our thoughts, in our environment through out this society or any society this world has had, for many there were before us and many that will come after us. 

          Often I am asked “Why Suffering”?  And, to be honest with you, “Suffering” was not God’s wish for us before the fall of Adam and Eve, but because of their fall, “suffering” became a part of the lot of human kind which includes you and me.  Suffering has no regard for status or life itself.  “Suffering” was brought to us by the Evil One, Satan, known as Lucifer the Light Bearer and remains with us until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ who died for us, our sins, Who descended into Hell to lay down the law before Satan, arising on the third day and ascended into Heaven.

          In spite of the many advances in medicine and science, many kinds of suffering exist and the same question is still often asked.  Why Suffering?

Everyone has experienced suffering or affliction of the body as well as the spirit in varying degrees.  This experience, when new, often is followed by fear which is the enemy’s weapon.

          Fear is caused by the unknown and is common to all, for no life can escape suffering and adversity.  Suffering is aggravated by fear which Is not controlled by the mind of reason.  One’s very attitude and understanding determines whether one will grow through suffering or embittered by it.  Suffering and fear it is said, can only be overcome by courage.  It is also said that without courage all is lost.  Courage, according to some church fathers makes it possible to move ahead, with a will to make the best of difficult situations and set an example that can sustain others who suffer.  Courage makes it possible to perform duties as they come and go.  Understanding suffering and pain helps one to face the inevitable and inescapable.  But, is there another means beyond “Courage”?  You will have to experience the reality in your life as to what the best approach would be for you for it is that not every one experiences Suffering in quite the same way as another.  “Courage” may be a good word in and of itself, but it is my personal belief that “Faith” and that a strong one which many in these present times do not yet have within themselves.  Faith in Jesus Christ! Faith in the teachings, in the words of Jesus Christ, His Holy Apostles and many who have left us writings down through time and history to aide, comfort, and provide a road map of sorts for directing us and offering us a means to come toward overcoming “Suffering”.

          Personally, I use a very special prayer which is an altered form of what is presented in Holy Scripture as the Lord’s Prayer for He did not say we MUST PRAY in a word for word manner, but that we can pray in like a manner.  You may find that prayer posted at this website which I have often taught and used for many people who are “suffering” in body, mind and soul.  Many Monks, Priests, Bishops, Archbishops, and Metropolitans have said that they had found it so very useful for not just themselves but for many to whom they minister to for it explains much more and provides more strength for those who are weak both physically and otherwise.

          In times of illness and suffering one is very conscious of the contrast between health and illness.  A person in good health too seldom protests his or her health in order to prevent its breakdown and then there are many who do not even observe such while going about believing themselves somewhat invincible to such breakdown until they begin to suffer.

          At times people exploit their own health and destroy their bodies by using material and spiritual devices such as alcohol, legal and illegal drugs (beyond reason), lust of the flesh and other weaknesses of society.

          Energy, time and money are often consumed in trying to cure, yet good health is more often than not, taken for granted.  The cause of our ills and injuries can often be traced back to our very own carelessness, our disregard (especially as youth) for the rules of good health maintenance – physical, emotional and even more often than not, sadly to say, spiritual. 

          There are times when we do not know the reasons, because we are healed and other times we are not.  Negligence of both body and spirit contribute greatly to the loss of health resulting in suffering and pain. Thus, suffering is an undeniable reality, a dilemma which people often minimize as if denying it might make it disappear.  Few adequately reflect on the depression and dejection that sometimes comes over them.  Few deny the deep-felt feelings of hopelessness which nearly crushes them.  Hardly can they flee from their lonely dread although they try to keep from disclosing their feelings of uneasiness and illness. 

          Actually, when one stops to think about it, we find that “Suffering” pervades all individuals and institutions.  It is the principle that governs many social service institutions of our society – those for the handicapped, blind, mentally disturbed as well as hose in prison, the needy and even the elderly.  Even though suffering permeates every aspect of this life we are living in – it is the least heeded and understood by those who judge and govern, who overlook the simplest facts.  Many in those various institutions are surprised by the horrible sufferings of other people.  This response indicates a failure of those institutions’ abilities to help those who suffer.  This is what psychology is about… a science of mankind which is yet to be more fully understood or developed.  It is in itself still in an infancy stage. Yet few blame them but rather place blame on “evils” in society.

          To be honest, it is my own personal feeling that living conditions of a vast number of people today are sub-standard; life expectancy is not being reduced by eradication of preventable disease as one is being led to believe; bare standards of mental well being are not really being met partially because the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ has not been fully understood or where there are few who do understand, there has been a perversion of them for the sake of an organization of cult.

          Man’s potential for gaining a higher plateau of well-being, better achievements and better living is being destroyed by the very elements that should be promoting human potential – the family, marriage, work, educational, professions and political institutions and society in general are to be blamed because of what has been said above in the previous paragraph.

          Can this suffering be resolved by group solutions?  It is believed that it is possible but not likely because of the diversity of beliefs as Christians or so-called “Christians” have altered, modified or even bastardized the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ for religio-political purposes.  We see this in certain jurisdictions of the Catholic Church from Rome to even Orthodoxy itself and most assuredly in various Protestant cults which have become so numerous that it would seem to be amazing how they can exist… but exist they do with sincerity of heart by many who operate them, but operate them with the back-in-the-mind idea of power, self-glory, silver and gold unbeknownst even to themselves which is an evil of the mind and heart that affects the soul.  Our political institutions operate on much the same kind of momentum.

          On examining our world around us, our character – our understanding may grow.  Only in such a life and word today can we know good health and learn to appreciate them. 

          How can we learn to appreciate health without disease and pain? How can we appreciate love without hate? How can we appreciate a sunny day without the storms and natural disasters?  How can we appreciate life without coming to know death?  Knowing the existence of a moral world with good and evil – we can gain insights into both.  Here is where mankind has been given FREE WILL, by the Grace of God who wants us to come to Him.  And for which reason He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ into the world who suffered for us.  Yet, believing is not enough in and of itself!  It must be LIVED! It must be our walk and talk not with “thou and thee” as though we lived in the times the Holy Bible was finalized and then later printed by the Gutenberg press… But with an energy of sincerity and desire to be a blessing to each one who we meet and greet each day of our life!

          It is then that with the FREE WILL we are given, we have the choice of seeking one and trying to avoid the other.  This knowledge though, does not always make it easier for us.  But the recognition and acceptance of the existence of good and evil strengthens our abilities to adjust to changing circumstances.  We then become aware that there is no real ‘easy way’.

HOW SOME CONQUER ADVERSITIES

          The marvel is that people do such amazing and inspiring things despite their difficult circumstances.  People, who are crippled, blind, handicapped and ill, have accomplished unbelievable feats, overcoming their difficulty.  Persons without arms learn to use their feet to type, write and paint.  Blind persons become exceptional lawyers, musicians, weavers, etc.  If we learn to accept the things that happen to us, we will find some peace and tranquility.  The humble acceptance of our misfortunes emerges from the virtue of gratitude.  If we realize that suffering can come to us at any time, we should learn to value our days of peace, health and happiness, which for some, is not easy when faced with immediate issues involving struggle.  But calling them to mind eases the transition whereby the hope of more peaceful and tranquil moments ahead is a focal point to reach, especially when we recognize and realize the depth to which our Lord had gone for each and every one of us.  A strong sense of gratitude frequently lessens the possibility of bitterness.

          Suffering and adversity often develop in people a new tenderness and gentleness.  This understanding emerges from the recognition that suffering and pain are a part of the design of human life.  Moreover, they become strong, worthy factors in enabling us to face whatever difficulties that come along.  But being aware of the possibility and having a healthy attitude makes the difference in dealing more effectively with the worst that might come in the future.  A healthy approach will develop the courage to face the worst.  This keeps us from being taken by surprise and lessens the shock and dismay that affects those who are oblivious to the fact that life has its share of suffering and adversity. 

          Of course, it is not possible to know or visualize what lies ahead for us and fully prepare for it. However, if we are prepared in general, we are better able to meet any unforeseen occurrence.  A philosopher has said: “To accept what has happened is the first step to overcome the consequences of any misfortune.” IF we apply this sound advice, we can strengthen our spirit to cope with suffering and adversities.  The question that naturally arises is whether one can do this more easily? The answer is rather simple – Faith In God!

          As already alluded to, Faith In God creates Courage. Faith in God is the very source of courage and fortitude when one faces a tragedy.  The most inspiring example if the very Life of Jesus Christ Himself! His courage and fortitude demonstrated clearly these values when He faced His arrest, trail, scourgings, beatings and suffering on the Cross. 

          It was a majestic display of courage unmatched in the whole of known human experience.  Jesus Christ quickly dealt with the tasks and difficulties confronting Him.  His actions were direct, not evasive, and each difficulty that arose had a part in demonstrating His courage during His agony on the Cross.  It is this kind of courage which shows a person’s capacity for understanding and doing one’s best.  Courage in confronting a problem, large or small, results in diminishing worries and fears. 

          Jesus Christ’s example of facing His difficulties is the kind of courage everyone should follow.  Therefore, from the very life of Jesus Christ we must learn a great deal about suffering.

          At the time of Jesus Christ’s walk and talk on this planet of ours, the world was far less secure than what many think it is today. Yet, He taught people to live one day at a time: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Matt. 6:34).  Jesus Christ also said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matt. 11:28, 29).  It is anxiety and lack of care of body and mind that leads to their breakdown and suffering.

          Faith in God overcomes anxiety, as alluded.  This becomes evident even though we face sufferings, and fears, because Jesus Christ overcame the evils of the world in which he physically lived.  This belief and knowledge gives us assurance, thereby creating a calmness in our body and mind which, in truth, heals.  Yet, it is your faith that is to be tested and tried.

          A very strong and abiding faith in God has cured many people of diseases and suffering where doctors and medicines have failed to do so.  Faith in God can produce miracles.  He promises those who suffer, physically and emotionally, even spiritually, that He will not leave them or forsake them.  God’s presence is our constant strength.  Jesus Christ said to the woman suffering for 12 years, when she touched His garment, “Take heart, daughter, you faith has made you well” (Matt. 9:22).  Many of Jesus Christ’s followers were indeed healed.  Yet, other men and women of faith were not; there are many such examples in the Bible. 

          Apostle Paul is one who was not healed, even though he was an apostle with great faith. His life was filled with illness and many other problems, for it was as he said: “Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’.  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of [Jesus] Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

          Paul asked God to remove his suffering, saying: “We felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead . . . on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:9,10).  Here was a man of great faith, yet his sufferings were not healed.  However, he gives us an answer to the question of suffering: “For the sake of [Jesus] Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).  When Apostle Paul was not relieved of his thorns, he accepted them as an asset, declaring that God’s Grace was enough for all his deeds, whatever they might be.  Apostle Paul’s story is also an example for facing our own sufferings in these End Times that we have entered world wide and in which the Anti-Christ rules more and more and where people have become so ‘dummed-down’ by their many false claims of being ‘Christian’ without recognizing or realizing what it truly means in both spirit and truth!  This is alarming and also an answer as to why there may seem to be more sufferings, more calamities and worse. 

          As I write this missive, I have been watching on television the recent crisis in Haiti.  The sufferings on-going there is only a touch of the proverbial spiritual and material ice-berg.  Truly a test of one’s faith.  And, I would dare say that son of the infamous Protestant preacher Billy Graham (whose belief is of sincerity for sure although a bit misguided with his and his family’s numerous monetary requests that is not truly a part of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Apostles whatsoever) . . . does not have a clue as to what is going on in this world’s spiritual affairs while claiming that the paganism loose or afoot is the cause… it is far worse than that for the example in Haiti is for the world to see as to what is really wrong and cause for God’s hand of blessing to be lifting ever so slowly from this America in which many of us live…  

Accepting Trials while trying to preserve health - - -

          Faith in God, then, means that we must put our very lives into His hands and acknowledging that we live by His Grace.  And one wonders in their mind, “How do I do this?”  The answer is rather simple but most difficult to do for our human nature is to rely on someone or something that provides a more solid assuredness as in a ‘guarantee’ or ‘contract’ of ‘clause’ of a written document. Well, the Holy Bible does not lie! And, it is a contract for those who literally and those who spiritually live by it.  Thus it is something solid for those who are weak and unmoved by the reality of truth given by the root, ground and base of all things CHRISTIAN which is Orthodox Catholic Christianity from which the Roman Jurisdiction did indeed schism even though they have much to claim otherwise including surreptitious documents of their own pen.  Yet, the Holy Bible, even with its having been altered, has not yet been so deformed in these times to obliterate this truth of and about the answer.

          Having faith makes the body function better, which in turn helps it to renew itself more readily. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

          Christians who truly dedicate their energy and health to the Will of God look upon their illness and suffering as a “…visitation of the Lord”. They show their courage, in the midst of illness and suffering, much like Job. 

          Job, a just man of the Old Testament, experienced much suffering.  Even so, he displayed great courage in his sufferings, saying: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). The Book of Job gives one explanation of the question of suffering: that God lets His people be afflicted to prove their faith in the face of suffering.  The problem of man’s suffering is resolved by the Prophet Isaiah in the conviction that suffering finds its glorification in service to others (read: Isaiah Chapter 53).

          The faithful Christian who expresses his gratitude to God for his health, bodily and spiritually, has the courage and the patience to undergo the pains of illness with the same dedication.  He believes that whatever his condition of body and soul, in health or sickness, God’s Grace leads him to life.

          It must be admitted though, that the truly sincere and faithful ‘Christian’ cares for and protects and even nourishes his body.  He should nourish it with spiritual as well as material things.  Yet, in saying this, I am sure there will be those who argue about clergy who ‘smoke’ cigarettes.  And, the answer, the only answer that stands strong is that which Jesus Christ, Himself, said: “Think not of that which goes into the body and out through the affluent but by every word that proceeds from thy mouth thou shall be judged by.”  Thus the argument is allegorical in respect to the idea of maintaining your body, nourishing it… For indeed it is up to the individual, for the idea is not a demand on everyone, but for one to consider which makes him or her no less and no more truly “Christian”.  For indeed, it is our thoughts and words as well as our actions that judgment will come.  Again, it is not what goes into our body that shall count… yet, consider all things that you take… prescribed and non-prescribed by physicians…

          In the Gospel according to James, Chapter 5:14-15, we learn: “Is any among you sick?  Let him call for the elders 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 sin, he will be forgiven.  This practice as instituted by the Apostles of Jesus Christ as the sacred ceremony of the Church by which its members are granted redemptive power through her priests, the elders, the Sacrament of Holy Unction.  This also alludes to the Seals of the Confession which is, in another writing, pointed out as being of and through Jesus Christ from which many Protestants and their ever increasing cults have fallen away from believing in… thus their altered faith and lack of belief make them less than Christian, but luke warm if at all, or anti-christian at best when coupled with their many other heresies and heretical beliefs.  This is not intended to be a negative about the people of Protestantism, so much as a fact of the theologies they have allowed to creep into their much claimed “Christian” churches that many people have opted to accept… a lie for truth while teaching truth as lies!

          The very Sacrament of Holy Unction sustains the faithful person who feels the need of His Grace (God’s) through Jesus Christ, in order to be saved and by which is transmitted to the sick person that which has been said so that “…the prayer of faith will save the sick man”.  Both body and spirit are cured. Thus, the Sacrament of Unction, as described by the Holy Apostle James, is an act of divine authority.  Divine Grace is invoked and transmitted to the faithful believer with the hope of healing and forgiveness of sins.

          Faith in God creates the hope of the suffering person to be made well.  Faith and hope go hand in hand as Holy Scripture points out for it is a divine power.  Only the faithful can rejoice in hope, for they rejoice in the glory of God.  Faith creates such a hope that it becomes a dynamic force from within.  It is this hope that motivates the spiritual energies of the faithful person, especially one who is suffering within and outwardly.

          Suffering, therefore, cannot be endured without God’s help, compassion and His understanding which our His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ experienced.

          Our sufferings from illness, accidents, loneliness, poverty, lack of love, loss of wealth, broken families, lack of freedom, prejudices and many other factors dominate most of our very lives.  IF we are alone and wandering without an awareness of the divine companion in our lives, our sufferings are permanent.  But the devoted Christian struggler, whose faith in Hope and Prayer is vivid, makes himself a recipient of God’s Grace by which he can endure his sufferings.

          To the unbelieving person it appears a paradox for the faithful to rejoice in their sufferings.  They do not understand that suffering produces patience.  Patience in itself produces experience in virtues and character from which hope penetrates our very being. This hope never disappoints us as followers of Jesus Christ whose Life and Teachings present a vivid picture or road map for living in this life so that we may attain a blessedness in the life to come when we cross the threshold from this life into the next.

Suffering Produces Strength

          The question of “Why Suffering” can now be better accepted in the light of this understanding. This new experience can be more easily accepted by putting oneself in the hands of God.

          The positive thinking of faith, trust and hope in God can be a healing force.  God gives us the ability and strength to pass through most difficult times.  It is amazing how the human being has the ability to endure great suffering and pain.  But more amazing is the power of prayer which is both an expression of faith and hope but a way of developing and growing in faith.

          When one establishes this communication with God, prayer activates God’s healing power within us.  This does not always stop our suffering and pain, but it most certainly renews us inwardly and sustains us. 

          The healing power value of prayer is not so much in the healing itself, but in the creating of our companionship with God.  Faith also does not always lessen suffering, yet faith never fails to heal the inner being, enriching our lives.

          The true values in life become clear to us when we suffer.  We see through the superficial approach to our modern living, putting material possessions and money in their proper perspective.  We become aware of true values: faith in and worship of God, love, health, family, friendship, meaningful work and service to others.  WE come to realize that these true values put material possessions and money which dominate our lives, in their proper perspective.  When sickness and suffering are suddenly experienced, proper focus is placed on these material possessions.  The suffering one also seems to see more clearly the reason for his existence.

          Be strong when facing suffering.  Be of good courage. Be not afraid nor dismayed.  Be of good cheer.  Seek inner strength and believe in this: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Ph. 4:13). 

          This strength comes from a resilient power of a deep and abiding faith in God.  The suffering one must draw form this source to strengthen and renew the weakened body.  Through struggle can one gain strength to overcome. It is at this time of suffering that our faith is truly put to the test. 

          Do we feel sorry for ourselves, do we weep, do we wring our hands, do we give up?  If so, faith and prayer cannot penetrate through these kind of walls. 

          The true Christian struggler must realize that behind suffering and adversity there lies the promise of God’s love, compassion, understanding and most of all, redemption.

          The Holy Bible has many assurances of God’s concern for the sufferings and adversities of people.  The Psalms have frequent reference to this.  The suffering person will find great comfort and strength in reading the Holy Bible diligently even if it is one paragraph at a time or whole chapters.

          But, again… it must be emphasized that courage can be taken form the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.  The suffering Christ justifies the sufferings of His followers.  Jesus Christ suffered because of the sins and weaknesses of others. Since Jesus Christ suffered should we not also suffer if we are truly His followers in both spirit and truth? 

          The Apostle Peter also offers many solutions to the problems of suffering, calling it a means of purifying and elevating the soul.  According to Peer, suffering brings us into closer fellowship with Christ, thereby helping us to attain the higher life.  The suffering one can receive courage form the fact that “Since, therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions, but by the Will of God” (1 Pet. 4:1-2). 

          Therefore, taken not only Hope, but take courage and strength as a true struggler in this life for the life to come as promised by Jesus Christ!  Yes… Take courage!

[ Note, Commentary & Opinion: As with our Vladyka +Thaddeus, so to with us who are the new webmasters of http://www.apostle1.com; this web site does not endorse any one person or parties for office.  Neither do we advocate any issue or item before the U.S. legislative body or any state, county or city political forum.  We present news and information that we believe may help you in your own individual or collective decision making processes as News to a true spiritual struggler in the faith who lives in secular society, is needed for such decision making processes.  For true it is indeed that many issues up to vote by the elected, hinders, hampers or frees a people and its clergy to worship and preach accordingly. Thus that which is or has been presented is presented only as a news item for your own interest.  ]


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