The Eternal Joy of Tribulations

 

The Eternal Joy of Tribulations

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A certain brother was troubled and disturbed by some person, but he did not say anything and endured the temptation joyfully for the sake of the Lord (Jas 1:2). Being a man and wearing flesh, however, he slowly began to be troubled by thoughts and sorrow. So he sneaked away to a hidden place and prayed to God from the depths of his heart with sadness and bitterness, wetting the ground with his tears, and supplicating God for endurance, patience, and forbearance.

The Lord consoled him in the following way, and by this consolation made him more patient and earnest.

A gentle and sweet sleep suddenly came over him where he had been praying with pain of heart. All of a sudden it seemed like he was in the middle of a beautiful plain, so large that it seemed as wide as the heavens, and there were also people there, more in number than the stars or the sand of the sea. This is confirmed by what the beloved John the Theologian and Evangelist says in his Apocalypse, ‘And behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands’ (Rev 7:9). The innumerable people clothed in bright white that were in that beautiful plain chanted loudly in unison and with wonderful sweetness the verse which says, ‘As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia’ (Gal 3:27).

The brother, surprised by the great multitude and sweet melody, asked one of them to tell him who they were, why they were dressed in such splendor, and why they were chanting that particular verse.

He answered the brother and said, ‘When we, whom you see and at whom you wonder, lived in the vain world, we passed through the river of tribulations and temptations out of love for Christ, and that is why our clothes have become so bright and white. Or don’t you know what the theologian, who rested in Christ’s bosom, says about us: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). The great tribulation we had in the world has now become for us great joy and a cause for boasting because we endured tribulation and temptation for Christ, and so we chant, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia.” A Christian in the world is not clothed with Christ on account of the joys in the world. He is clothed with Christ on account of the tribulations in the world. That is why Christ said, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). The Christian (who has courage and hope in Christ) should be brave and hope in Christ when he undergoes hardships and suffers for Christ, when he is scorned and shamed because of him, and when he is hated and ostracized because of him, for Christ says, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Mt 5:11). He who does not endure such things for Christ, however, is not clothed with Christ, nor does he enter into Christ’s joy.’

After he had said these things to him, the brother came to himself and became even more eager to undergo every tribulation, battle, and temptation for the name of Christ, so that Christ might number him in the next life with those who were dressed in bright white clothes, and who stand about the throne of Christ, joyfully and ceaselessly glorifying him.