10 great quotes about the role of suffering/sorrows in the spiritual life (I)

1) St Ambrose of Optina

A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.


2) St Nikon of Optina

A life without sorrows is a sign of God’s disapproval. We should not envy those who live without sorrows, for the end of their sorrowlessness is grievious.


3) St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Blessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love for mankind, for the benefit and assistance of men. In His mercy, God looses suffering on men because of their sins – by His mercy and not His justice For, if it were by His justice, every sin would inevitably bring death, as the Apostle says: “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1: 15). In place of death, God gives healing through suffering. Suffering is God’s way of healing the soul of its sinful leprosy and its death.


4) Elder Arsenie Papaciac

My dear, suffering is a gift from God! It is a mistake to run from your own suffering. You are truly free only when you are struggling, when you are present on the cross. Suffering brings deep wisdom and make you reflect more seriously on your salvation.


5) Elder Ephraim of Katounakia

Everyone has a cross to carry. Why? Since the leader of our faith endured the cross, we will also endure it. On one hand, the cross is sweet and light, but, on the other, it can also be bitter and heavy. It depends on our will. If you bear Christ’s cross with love then it will be very light; like a sponge or a cork. But if you have a negative attitude, it becomes heavy; too heavy to lift.


6) Fr Seraphim Rose

Suffering is an indication of another Kingdom which we look to. If being Christian meant being “happy” in this life, we wouldn’t need the Kingdom of Heaven.


7) Fr Seraphim Rose

Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world.

I am at this moment in some pain, and I call on the Name of Jesus—not necessarily to relieve the pain, but that Jesus, in Whom alone we may transcend this world, may be with me during it, and His will be done in me. But in pleasure I do not call on Him; I am content then with what I have, and I think I need no more.

And why is a philosophy of pleasure untenable?—because pleasure is impermanent and unreliable, and pain is inevitable. In pain and suffering Christ speaks to us, and thus God is kind to give them to us, yes, and [allows] evil too—for in all of these we glimpse something of what must lie beyond, if there really exists what our hearts most deeply desire.


8) Elder Sophrony

Sufferings bear so much fruit that if we were a little wiser we would not want to “come down from the cross”.


 9) St Barsanuphius of Optina

You need not be despondent. Let those be despondent who do not believe in God. For them sorrow is burdensome, of course, because besides earthly enjoyment they have nothing. But believers must not be despondent, for through sorrows they receive the right of sonship, without which is impossible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.


10) St John of Kronstadt

The Lord, as an artful physician, subjects us to various trials, sorrows, illnesses, and misfortunes, in order to purify us like gold in the furnace. A soul that is hardened in various sins does not easily undergo cleansing and healing, but has to be forced to a great extent, and only through lengthy experience in patience and suffering does it become accustomed to virtue and begins to love God, from Whom it was alienated after becoming attached to all kinds of mortal sins. Such is the purpose of the trials and tribulations sent to us by God in this life.