It’s Not Just You


It’s not just you. St. Isaac the Syrian says: 

Whenever you wish to make a beginning in some good work, first prepare yourself for the temptations that will come upon you, and do not doubt the truth. For it is the enemy’s custom, whenever he sees a man beginning a good mode of life with fervent faith, to confront him with diverse and fearful temptations…. It is not that our adversary has such power – for then no one could ever do good – but that God concedes it to him, as we have learned with the righteous Job. Therefore prepare yourself manfully to encounter temptations.


  1. Thank you so much Father Stephen. Your blogs have beens such a source of encouragement and comfort to me. I recently lost a very close friend (at the age of 26). Knowing that I live in a “one-story universe” helped me to cope with my tragic loss.

    This short little passage from St. Isaac the Syrian also helps me in one of my greatest struggles… faintheartedness. St. Ambrose of Optina was the first to give me an understanding of what it means to “take the Kingdom of Heaven by force”.

    As Orthodox Christians, or even as serious seekers of Truth, we are entering into a violent battleground. For those of us that tend to be somewhat meek by nature, we need all the gentle reminders that we can get. Knowing that I should expect confrontation is half the battle. The other half of the battle is being reminded that God is everywhere present and fills all things; anything not from God is not real, and will vanish over time like smoke

  2. Wise words from St. Isaac the Syrian. Taking this view has changed my attitude about so many things. I now expect difficulties and prepare for them. Before, I expected things to be easy and was daunted by the smallest challenge. I pray more.

  3. Thank you for posting this excerpt Father Stephen. It brings to mind how man’s free will and the Grace of God work together. It starts out by saying “Whenever you wish to make a beginning in some good work” .. which is the product of our free will. But that will not sustain us in our journey to God. What sustains us is the Grace of God. In Matthew 26:41 Jesus instructed his disciples, “Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation”. Not just watch, but pray also. God Bless.

  4. Bijoy,

    I agree. I think the author means by “prepare yourself for temptations” in fact to “watch and pray.” I can think of no better preparation.

  5. I kept thinking Lent would get easier and easier as the years go by. It doesn’t. If anything it is worse each year. Harder. Can’t I just crawl into some hole until its over? Sainthood seems a long way off for someone wrestling with their two year old for two hours to go to bed….

  6. Erica,

    You have no idea the great grace there is for the sacrifices parents make. It, I think, is one of the greatest spiritual offerings anyone makes. Sainthood may very well be present as you wrestle with a two year old. May God give you every grace in such service to his creation.

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