Temptations and the Power We Give Them Over Ourselves

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If the diver found a pearl in every oyster, then everyone would quickly become rich! And if he brought one up the moment he dove, without waves beating against him, without sharks encountering him, without having to hold his breath until he nearly expires, without being deprived of the clear air granted to everyone and having to descent to the abyss—if all this were the case, pearls would come thicker and faster than lightning flashes.

Oftentimes, we question why God allows such great temptation in our lives. Not only is our temptation external, but from within as well. Impure thoughts, intentions and judgments continuously arise throughout my day. Falling when tempted seems inevitable.

But within me is a longing for purity and virtue. Even though I fall to sin repeatedly, I desire to live a Godly life. This desire, however small, that every baptized Christian yearns for cannot be attained but through continuous trials. The lives of the saints testify to this truth—the closer a person draws to God the greater the intensity of temptations rises.

As long as you are journeying in the way to the city of the kingdom and are drawing near the city of God, let this be for you a signpost: the strength of the temptations you encounter. The nearer you draw and progress, the more temptations multiply against you. Whenever you perceive in your soul diverse and intensified temptations in your path, therefore, know at that time your soul has in fact secretly entered a new higher level, and that grace has been added to her in the state where she was found; for God leads the soul into the afflictions of trials in exact proportion to the magnificence of grace which He bestows.

This pearl/city of God that St. Isaac likens to eternity with Christ is a simple analogy to the great treasure that awaits every baptized Christian. Abstaining from judging others and impure thoughts will only be achieved by relying on Christ and His dwelling within me. It requires me to place all hope and confidence in Him—with a whole heart. I will fall on this road simply because of my sinful desires, but I’ll remain hopeful—hopeful in God’s never-ending compassion and willingness to forgive.

If a man’s soul has an infirmity and it does not have strength enough for great temptations, and it therefore asks not to enter into them, and God heeds this, then know for a certainty that insofar as the soul is insufficient for great trials, in the same measure it is insufficient for great gifts. For God does not grant a great gift without a great trial.

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