My son, says Scripture, if you come to serve the Lord, prepare your soul for trial, set you heart straight, and patiently endure (Eccles. 2:1-2). And elsewhere it is said: Accept everything that comes as good, knowing that nothing occurs without God willing it. Thus the soul that wishes to do God's will must strive above all to acquire patient endurance and hope. For one of the tricks of the devil is to make us listless at times of affliction, so that we give up our hope in the Lord. God never allows a soul that hopes in Him to be so oppressed by trials that it is put to utter confusion. As St. Paul writes: God is to be trusted not to let us be tried beyond our strength, but with the trial He will provide a way out, so that we are able to bear it (I Cor. 10:13). The devil harasses the soul not as much as he wants but as much as God allows him to. Men know what burden may be placed on a mule, what on a donkey, and what on a camel, and load each beast accordingly; and the potter knows how long he must leave the pots in the fire, so that they are not cracked by staying in it too long or rendered useless by being taken out of it before they are properly fired. If human understanding extends this far, must not God be much more aware, infinitely more aware, of the degree of trial it is right to impose on each soul, so that it become tried and true, fit for the kingdom of heaven?
- St. Macarius the Great of Egypt (+390)[../../_private/oabot.htm]