Tests and Temptations – God and Friends

The 6th Century monk, St. Dorotheos of Gaza, makes a comparison between the God of love, and a good friend.

“If a man has a friend and he is absolutely certain that his friend loves him, and if that friend does something to cause him suffering and be troublesome to him, he will be convinced that his friend acts out of love and he will never believe that his friend does it to harm him.

How much more ought we to be convinced about God who created us, who drew us out of nothingness to existence and life, and who became a man for our sakes and died for us, and who does everything out of love for us? It is conceivable that a friend may do something because he loves me and is concerned about me which, in spite of his good intentions, does me harm; this is likely to happen because he does not have complete knowledge and understanding of what my needs and destiny are. But we cannot say the same about God, for he is the fountain of wisdom and he knows everything that is to my advantage, and with this in view he arranges everything that concerns me without counting the cost. Again, about the friend who loves me and is concerned about me and conscientiously looks after my welfare: it can certainly happen in certain circumstances that he thinks I need help and yet he is powerless to help me. Even this we cannot say about God. For to him all things are possible; with God nothing is impossible.

God, we know, loves and takes care of what he has fashioned. He is the fountain of wisdom and he knows what to do to promote our welfare and nothing is beyond his power. Hence we must be convinced that all he does, he does for our benefit and we ought to receive it with gratitude, as we said before, as coming from a beneficent and loving Master – and this even if some things are distressing, for all things happen by God’s just judgement and he who is merciful does not overlook what is wrong nor does he give life to our tribulations. Often a man in doubt about this will say, ‘What if a man in difficult circumstances does something sinful because of the affliction he is suffering? How can he be sure that the affliction happens to him for his own good?’ God  does not allow us to be burdened with anything beyond our power of endurance, and therefore, when difficulties come upon us we do not sin unless we are unwilling to endure a little tribulation or to suffer anything unforeseen.

As the Apostle says, ‘God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able [to endure].’ But we are men who have no patience and no desire for a little labor and [no desire] to brace ourselves to accept anything with humility. Therefore we are crushed [by our difficulties]. The more we run away from temptations, the more they weigh us down and the less we are able to drive them away.” (Discourses and Sayings, pp 192-194)