Posts from the ‘Random Notes’ Category

I Can Do All Thinks Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me (Phil. 4:13)

"There is no man who will not be grieved at the time of his chastisement; and there is not man who will not endure a bitter time, when he must drink the poison of temptations. Without them, it is not possible to obtain a strong will. When he has often experienced the help of God in temptations, a man also obtains strong faith. " -St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 37

“There is no man who will not be grieved at the time of his chastisement; and there is not man who will not endure a bitter time, when he must drink the poison of temptations…When he has often experienced the help of God in temptations, a man also obtains strong faith. ” -St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 37

There is an article (a few of them, actually) making the rounds on social media right now which tries to make the point that the phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not an accurate thing to say. Unfortunately, these articles themselves don’t quite have things right.

They refer back to the quote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” (This is where the quote ‘God will not give you more than you can handle’ originates). The point is then attempted: this verse doesn’t mean you won’t be given things that can’t be handled, only that God will not allow a temptation you can’t bear – that the verse doesn’t say anything about other experiences you may have within life. Pointing out difficult situations – Auschwitz, cancer, rape, etc. – the authors then say that these things crush people and are more than can be borne (cf. 2 Cor. 1:8-9 for their Biblical example – where Paul says they are at the *point* of breaking in order to learn to trust in God, Who then enabled them to handle their temptations).

The truth of the matter is that the Fathers of the Church understand all of the negative and evil experiences that we endure in this life to fall in that broader category of ‘temptation.’ We may have a temptation to fall into a particular sin, or we may have the temptation of cancer or some other tragedy in our lives. Following is a portion of the wonderful commentary of St. John Chrysostom (4th C) on the particular verse in question. If you are interested in engaging with the question at hand, read through the commentary, and I will make a few points at the end for our consideration.

“Then, because he terrified them, see how again he raises them up, at the same time recommending moderation; in the words, God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able. There are therefore temptations which we are not able to bear. And what are these? All, so to speak. For the ability lies in God’s gracious influence; a power which we draw down by our own will. Wherefore that you may know and see that not only those which exceed our power, but not even these which are common to man is it possible without assistance from God easily to bear, he added, But will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. For, says he, not even those moderate temptations, as I was remarking, may we bear by our own power: but even in them we require aid from Him in our warfare that we may pass through them, and until we have passed, bear them. For He gives patience and brings on a speedy release; so that in this way also the temptation becomes bearable. This he covertly intimates, saying, will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it: and all things he refers to Him.” –St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on First Corinthians

It is very important that St. John points out to us that all temptation, everything evil we encounter, is too much for us to bear. From the ‘smallest’ temptation to the most dramatic events, all temptation is more than fallen humanity can bear. It is only through God’s assistance that we can bear all things. God will not give us more than we can bear, but bearing our temptations requires that we turn to Him for help.

God is infinitely powerful – by His grace we can endure anything. To say otherwise would be to doubt in the power of God. As St. John says, God will give us patience to endure, and also provides a way of escape, a way to come through out temptations when the time is right.

It is very easy for us to question this Biblical and Patristic teaching, mainly because we want God to moderate our temptations in a way that seems wise to us. We don’t want to bear temptation, but to already pass through it before it has even begun. We choose not to seek God in our moment of temptation, and then it becomes quickly more than we can bear. We want God’s comfort in a way we define. But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 1:25).

Our ‘duty’ then, should we choose to accept St. Paul’s teaching, is to seek solace from all temptation in Christ, and to accept the path He lays out for us. We accept God’s help on God’s terms, and since His might is infinite, He can equip us, by His grace, to endure all things.

Posted by Matthew Jackson

Import complete!

I am astonished – but tonight I have completed an import of the entire content of my previous blog (priestmatthewjackson.blogspot.com) onto this blog! Many of the older posts still need some work, especially categorizing and tagging things properly, but that will happen over time.

NEW BLOG LOCATION

I have now moved my blog to a new location. All future posts will be made at:


https://priestmatthewjackson.wordpress.com/

For the time being, posts that are currently on this blog will remain here, and the blog will remain public and searchable.

articles

As I wrote the first day I set up this blog, one of my major purposes is to make easily accessible articles about various facets of the Orthodox Faith and Christian Life. I finally have figured out how to organize these in drop-down menus, with the topic contained within each menu displayed. If you have any suggestions for sites/articles to include, or other topics, please let me know!

God bless.

Purpose

As an Orthodox Christian priest, I feel a bit strange beginning a “blog.” My wife laughingly said, “I thought you hated those things!” when I showed her what I was doing. Our society has become so bizarrely voyeuristic, with everyone wanting to publicly display everything about themselves. It’s quite un-natural and un-healthy. We feel very uncomfortable being alone with ourselves.

But I do this with purpose (my excuse, I guess)-to publish, in one place, many quality links about Orthodox Christianity. The idea is to provide online resources for people who would like to learn about the Orthodox Church, and for Christians who would like to learn and grow in their faith. I pray that someone will find some use for these (as they are added slowly…I’m still trying to figure out formatting).

Purpose #2-I will also post homilies and random meditations on Scripture/Writings of the Holy Fathers/Christian Life in the World today.

May God bless you.

set up

8-16-06
Setting up blog…