Everything is under God's control

As days get longer, the storms get stronger. When an individual begins his way, it seems to him that everything is easy, that he simply has to move forward with his head up and sing a merry song. However, complications begin to set in, and it seems to him that he probably chose the wrong way, or maybe he will not be able to pull through. Or maybe there is a different way, a shortcut, an easier and a more convenient one? And he begins to doubt and hesitate, although everything seemed so simple to him at first.
When an individual comes to God, everything seems simple to him, as if his life has changed and he became holy, and everyone should pay attention to what he says and God would always help him. Certainly, such delusions soon fade. Sometimes this disillusionment takes some time. The quicker it happens, the better, because a person who shows off and teaches everybody how to live with God may do a lot of harm. Many people might be shunned by it when they see or feel the falsehood, the bravado, and the slogans that have nothing to back them.
When the person faces his total inability, when he can no longer understand what to do because he sees that sin is ingrained in everything he does – surely, this feeling of one's own misery makes one sober. It must be sobering, not depressing. This is why we keep talking about balance, about the constant inner work that a believer should do to avoid being abused and beguiled by the enemy.
Sometimes our wrongdoings and mistakes are revealed to us. We should take a timely stop, not to deceive ourselves, and start everything over again.
During his lifetime, a Christian is in contact with a different and a new life, which is eternal. In spite of the fact that this life is different, we use the old maps, the old guidelines. It is this contradiction that tears an individual apart, attacks and ruins him. This is when the humble truly receive grace.
If an individual reconciles with himself, with his own infirmities, if he is patient and realises that he is, in fact, unworthy of anything and is unable to do anything on his own, life becomes easier for such a man. But when a person is infested with pride, when he is too enthusiastic and has too much energy, life is difficult for him. One needs to calm down, not to hurry, and not to make a fuss. It is this that can make one depressed: the thought that he wants to do everything but no one listens to him and no one needs his “spiritual” energy.
Human enthusiasm may be very self-devastating. This is why God's power is not made manifest in human power. If we take God's power and add up human power, we have two powers. It is surprising to see a weak man who is able to feel his guilt and to come closer to God. Such a person begins to see this world as it is in reality, even if imperfectly. His world outlook changes because his own opinion, moods and emotional states do not interfere with his vision.
I recall the late Novice Tamara. She used to be a very obstinate and quick-tempered person. Sometimes she used to say bad and cruel words to other people. She had got accustomed to it in the boarding home. However, she changed drastically when she got ill and suffered. She suddenly turned into a different personality – her words and her feelings were totally different. It was a positive transformation, when her old self with its “truths,” claims, and grievances died, and a new person who was humble and grateful to God, who accepted God's will and had everything in its right place was born at last. See what change there might be! It may be attributed to her illness, a certain shock.
The Bible says, I found trouble and sorrow, then called I upon the name of the Lord (Ps. 116:3-4). Should we all want to be ill? A person might say, “I'd rather be ill than sin.” No, we should not say so! We should take care of our health. However, this must not be a cult, an idol, for us. And at the same time we should do something that we can do. We do not need to guess what to do: there is a certain amount of work, duties, and a number of people around us. It is an unbroken field; we have so much to change and correct here!
Sometimes overcoming ourselves may be a difficult task. This is because we are usually infected with sin, and the sin shows the human “truth” to us, due to which, of course, we cannot see God's Providence, humility and long-suffering of the Lord, and therefore we judge wrongly and do inaccurate estimations. This is because we choose ourselves as the point of reference.
If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23). How can we deny ourselves? You see, if we don't, we will go in the wrong direction. How can we deny ourselves? Is it something we can do using our own power? Of course, not. Nevertheless, in Christianity the law of nature is reverted. See what the Holy Spirit says through the Apostle: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Cf. Gal.3:28). All are alive unto God: Christ is risen, and there are no more dead in the graves. There are no more dead, but we are dead, and it is very hard for us to come back to life because we are used to a lethargic and relaxed kind of life that is based on egoism and whims. Such a person will not make it to the Kingdom of God, of course.

God's love is what we need to get through to the eternity. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden (Matthew 11:28). It means that the Lord does not restrict salvation to a certain age or abilities – all ye that labour, come unto Him. It seems that all have equal conditions and can work.
When someone comes to me asking, “What should I do?” I reply, “Do anything you can but do it eagerly, attentively, with love and humility.” You need not stand on your head or travel to the jungle. Take a cloth and wash the floor until it is clean – and this will be a holy deed, once you do it with prayer and humility...
“What should I do? How can I be saved?” As if it were a mystery! Do not judge anyone and thank God for everything. Do not trust the sin that dwells inside you. Again, we ought to triumph over ourselves and our opinions. We should trample down on our egoism. We all know too well what we should do but we are not determined enough to do it. This is why we blame someone else, try to justify ourselves by circumstances, try to say that we are not ready yet... We are looking for someone and something to blame, and the enemy is glad to use it as he pleases.
People are not bad but each one convinces himself that he is right and is eager to see the wrongdoings of others. As a result, there are misunderstandings and mistrust, there is no unity and divine peace that the Lord gives to all of us.
There are different moments in our lives. The sin lives inside us and reminds us of its presence all the time. There are the moments of grace when the Lord covers all and we are vibrant and feel good, like the Apostles on Mount Tabor: “It is good for us to be here” (Cf. Luke 9:33).   However, when temptation comes, we may say, “I do not know anything, I have nothing to do with it, leave me alone, don't touch me!”
This is why creation of anything in this world is a difficult task. It is a difficult task even to create a family. How many of real families where people serve and obey one another, where they love and stay focused on one another are there? If we manage to find one such family, it is a miracle! It is even more meaningless to talk about the Sisterhood and the Convent because each person has his own version of the world, which is hostile to alternative opinions and visions. “I believe in my own right more than in anything else.” If we want to be united, we need God.
The Church is the unity, the unassailable institution, which the gates of hell will not prevail against, because Christ loves us, because the Church is based on love, on the love of Christ towards man. We leave this love without an answer because we do not hold it in high esteem and are accustomed to it. This love does not diminish, and even where sin multiplies, grace is over-abundant (Cf. Romans 5:20). The Lord does not ask us, “Do you deserve my love or not?” He asks, “Do you want my love?”
God does not compel us to love him. We live thanks to God's mercy and thanks to His love, which unites us today regardless of all the sins that must have already separated us from each other. We see individuals who give in to their personal vision and personal opinion and go astray. They decide that their truth is the truest, that their opinion is right, but it is a mistake. When will that person see that it is a mistake? He may not see it until the end of his days or he may be able to see it soon enough.
It is so sad to hear about destruction... You hear confessions, and young people come and tell you about the devil ruining families and making people angry with one another. He manages to do the most horrible thing: close relatives become enemies because of material wealth, inheritance, accommodation, etc. How dreadful it is! How cheaply one can sell himself, how insane he may be! It happens everywhere all the time.
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When you hear about it constantly, your happiness and optimism gradually evaporates. At the same time, we must realise that this is transient and superficial. We should talk about the source of life, the joy that is present and active in this world and defeats it. Sometimes it is invisible to the human eye, and we need faith and trust in God in order to see it. We should deny ourselves, our opinions, and our vision of the current situation.
If a person humbles himself down and listens to advice, it is good; sometimes he does not do it and does not want to hear anything. Sadly, all this may be masked by pseudo-Orthodox ideology. It may even become absurd sometimes. The “Orthodox” person does not notice his neighbour who is suffering nearby – the latter is low on his priority list. The pseudo-Orthodox thinks that he must solve global issues. Things like that also happen all the time. It does not sound too optimistic but we must not lose hope and faith.
We should help one another, support one another, and bear each other's burdens in order not to fall and not to lose connection with God. Our common prayer and meetings are useful, perhaps, but not at all times. Some moments are delightful, some sad, and some really stressful. This is what life is all about, and we should continue to live, gain new experience, turn new pages of our life, and draw conclusions from them so that we would not be mistaken and deceived by sin, which may sometimes appear to be more trustworthy than the words of the Lord.

Our journey continues, and we attempt to find something, to explore something in our everyday lives. Most importantly, God is near. Our lives and the lives of our relatives are in His hands, not in the hands of an accident, fortune, or coincidences of some sort or another. Everything is controlled by God.

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