The word of the day is “Lord’s.” In good times we are apt to forget that we own neither the present nor the future. We begin to construct a life for ourselves without reference to our Creator and Redeemer. But in times of misfortune, when things do not go our way, we see the futility of our efforts to live for ourselves. At these times, it is a great comfort to believe that everything is in the hands of God.
In today’s reading of Romans 14:6-9, St. Paul writes, “Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (vs. 8). At the end of every litany in the Divine Liturgy, we “commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God” (St-Tikhon’s 1984). Our prayer is but to acknowledge that, as St. Paul says, we are the Lord’s (vs. 8).
Peace in Entrusting Our Lives to Christ
When we endure unforeseen difficulties, we can have peace in entrusting ourselves and our whole life to Christ. It is the only thing that we can do, and it is a great blessing to have faith in the God of providence to do so.
In times of adversity, we can find solace in the words of St. Isaac the Syrian. He wrote, “In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.”
St. Isaac the Syrian: God has a Single, Equal Love for All
St. Isaac continues, “And since in the New World the Creator’s love rules over all rational nature, the wonder at His mysteries that will be revealed then will captivate to itself the intellect of rational beings whom He has created so that they might have delight in Him, whether they be evil or whether they be just. With this design did He bring them into existence, even though they, among themselves have made, after their coming into being, this distinction between the just and the wicked. Even though this is so, nevertheless in the Creator’s design, there is none, from among all who were created and who have come into being, that is, every rational nature who is to the front or to the back of God’s love. Rather, God has a single equal love which covers the whole extent of rational creation, all things whether visible or invisible: there is no first place or last place with Him in this love for any single one of them, as I have said” (Quoted in Bock 2014, 3).
Whatever difficulties we face are only temporary. Chrysostom says that tenderly cultivated trees that never withstand the wind and storms become weak and bear little fruit. But those that prevail against wind, drought, and heat grow strong and fruitful. We do not own our lives, nor are we in charge of them. But the God of mercy grants us strength and comfort in stressful times, so that we grow strong in faith
Bock, Sebastian. 2014. “St Isaac the Syrian and his understanding of universal salvation and of ‘the mystery of Gehenna (Hell)’.” Clarion Journal. https://www.clarion-journal.com/files/brock-on-st-isaac.pdf.
St-Tikhon’s. 1984. Service Books of the Orthodox Church. Third ed. South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press.