April 13, 2022

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: On Patience (8)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Lord and Master of my life, bestow on Your servant a spirit of patience."

Oh, how we must ask for this spirit of patience! Oh, how we must acquire patience! After all, the Lord Himself said: “By your patience save your souls” (Luke 21:19).

In patience is the salvation of our soul. Why is it so? Because the Lord Jesus Christ said: “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14). This path is difficult, daunting, and the Lord told us, and the apostles tell us that this path - the path of Christian life - is the path of suffering, the path of sorrows. “In the world you will have sorrow, but fear not, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If so, if the whole Christian path is the path of suffering, the path of sorrows, only in patience is the salvation of the world. We can save our souls only by patience.

The Apostle James says in his universal epistle: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

You see, patience has a perfect effect, patience makes us perfect in its entirety without any flaws. The Apostle Paul says: "You need patience, so that, having done the will of God, you will receive the promise" (Heb. 10:36), - eternal life, the Kingdom of God.

Be patient: without patience it is impossible to be saved. This apostle, like all the other apostles, endured many, many great sorrows, persecutions, torments, and in the end - martyrdom. All the apostles suffered likewise, except for John the Theologian, who died a natural death at a ripe old age.

And the apostle Paul says: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12). (Everyone saw my apostolic dignity not only in the signs and wonders that I did, but also in my patience).

You see how great patience is: the apostle, along with signs and wonders, calls patience a sign of the apostles, a sign of holiness, a sign of the friends of God. He says in another epistle: “But we show ourselves as servants of God, ... in great patience, in tribulations, in difficult circumstances” (2 Corinthians 6:1, 4).

To all he showed the sign of an apostle in great patience. And to his disciple, Bishop Timothy, he bequeathed: “But you, a man of God, ... prosper in righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Tim. 6:11).

If the apostle had to excel so much in patience, then how can we, such weak Christians, reject this virtue? How can we reject patience when we so easily begin to grumble against God, if He sends the inevitable suffering for Christians? Never, never should one reject patience, for without it the path to the Kingdom of God is absolutely impossible.

You know that great patience is needed even in worldly affairs, what shall we say about our path, about our spiritual life? It is immeasurably more important to us than to worldly people. How are we to acquire patience? Get used to enduring, get used to not grumbling - and everyone is very inclined to grumble. And, of course, ask God for patience.

If we ask God for patience, we will ask for whatever pleases Him, and it will be with us according to the word of Christ: “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him” (Matt. 7:11).

Isn't it such a good thing - patience? A petition for patience is a petition pleasing to God, and God will not abandon, God will help every Christian who calls for patience under the weight of his cross. God will help every unfortunate person, burdened with a large family and languishing in poverty, if they ask for patience.

But it happens that evil people also ask for it, walking the dark, sinful path, doing evil at every step; they also, languishing under the weight of their evil life, happen to also ask for patience. And God will not give them patience: for this would mean to facilitate their dark, sinful life, to contribute to it. He will not give it to them, but to all those good ones who humbly ask for patience on their Christian path, the Lord will give patience, as the apostle Paul says: "that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

He gives patience, he does not burden anyone beyond their strength, if only they would not fall into cowardice, if only they would remember that our troubles and sufferings, that our grief is nothing compared to what our Lord Jesus Christ endured for us. And therefore, we need to endure a lot, seeking consolation, “looking at the author and perfecter of faith, Jesus, who, instead of the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. Think of Him who endured such reproach from sinners against Himself, lest you become faint and weak in your souls” (Heb. 12:2-3).

That's what you need to be strengthened, that's where you can draw from, to endlessly draw patience - from the Cross of Christ.

Look more often at the Holy Cross, at the Savior Crucified on the Cross, and pray with Ephraim the Syrian: Lord and Master of my life, bestow on Your servant a spirit of patience. Amen.