St. Mary of Egypt. Yes, that is a lion in the background. It is digging her grave.

If you have ever suffered as a Christian and have been part of a certain heretical doctrine that states ‘really good’ Christians should never suffer because if you live your life right the blessings of God over take you and you are a happy little saint right here on earth, (Whew… breathe), I hope you will read this and perhaps take a closer look at Orthodox Christianity. We did not write THE book on suffering but we have many on the shelves in our libraries.

Protestants and RC are gearing up for Easter celebrations this Sunday after celebrating Palm Sunday last week.

The Orthodox still have one more week after this week before we celebrate Pascha (our Easter).

As we approach Passion Week, our thoughts shift ever more toward the suffering of Christ. Suffering is part of life, and it is part of being a Christian. It just is. Many people ask, ‘Why, instead of helping His people throuhg their suffering, why does God not keep the suffering from happening in the first place?’.

I went to the OCA website (Orthodox Christianity in America) and pulled this quote:

There are generally three sources of suffering in this world: suffering from the persecution of others in body and soul, suffering from sickness and disease, and suffering in spirit because of the sins of the world. There are only two possible ways to deal with such sufferings. Either one humbly accepts them and transforms them into the way of salvation for oneself and others; or one is defeated by them with rebellion and rejection, and so “curses God and dies” both physically and for eternity in the ages to come (cf. Job 2.9–10).

OCA website

A lack of suffering can, if we allow it to, produce much fruit in our journey toward Eternity. It is a process. Do we turn toward God or away from God? Do we praise God or curse Him and die?

Have you gone through suffering and found that suddenly, all of your christian friends have disappeared like the last bit of snow on a warm day? We, my husband and I, did. I look back now with gratitude. At the time however, I was not happy, may have said some things to God that should have earned me a trip to the woodshed, but God is merciful. He lead me not to the woodshed for a spanking but to the Orthodox Church where I finally met Him in His true glory and not the made up version of Him being peddled these days in ‘other areas’.

God is not evil, but people can be. God is not cruel, but people can be. God never lies, but people sometimes do. God is merciful and loving but sometimes people are judgemental. I know I am. Forgive me for the sake of Christ.

I don’t know of a single person who has not been wounded by the people in their church. Maybe that is why we are told to attend church? Perhaps it is because it is definitely a place where we are challenged? For an introvert especially it can be difficult to navigate everything that is going on.

If you have been through some ‘stuff’ where from friends, family, your church, whatever, I encourage you to look into the Orthodox Church.

People who are well do not need a hospital. Jesus did not come for perfect people. Just attending church does not mean a person is good. It is not an automatic ticket into heaven. The Orthodox Church can help you in so many ways. One of those ways is by helping you to understand the nature of suffering and our proper response to it. You will never NOT suffer.

I could give you a bunch of book titles to read but instead, I wish to encourage you to attend an Orthodox Church next week during Passion/Holy week. Although I cannot find it now, I once read that attending every service during Holy Week would put you around the 30 hours mark for time spent in church. That would give you a crash course, so-to-speak, on what it is like at an Orthodox Church.

Make this year the year you investigate The Orthodox Church. You have been wanting something more… something meaty… this is it!

Jesus came that we may have salvation. He came to conquer death… by dying. He suffered, we suffer. He shows us how to suffer well. Even He prayed that His cup of suffering would be taken from Him but it was not. He knew the rewards of His suffering if he would endure. Orthodoxy teaches us endurance. It teaches us how to run the race and WIN!

The spiritual person, when suffering in the flesh, uses his afflictions to be set free from sin, and to be made “perfect through suffering” like Jesus Himself (Heb 2.10). He knows that as his “outer nature is wasting away” he is being born into the Kingdom of God if he suffers in and with Jesus the Lord.

Again from the OCA article

Passion Week, I highly recommend it even if you are not Orthodox, attend the Orthodox services. Look them up in your area. It would be an easy search on the Internet. Although you do need to do a bit a sifting because when you type in Orthodox Christian churches in my area things like, Holy Pentecost church will come up that is NOT an Orthodox church. You will need to look for things like Saint names in the title of the church. Something like, St. Peter and Paul Holy Orthodox Church.

If you still are not sure and need additional help, contact me and I will look it up for you and tell you which listing is an Orthodox Church and which is not. happy ‘hunting’.

Here is a LINK to help explain Holy Week.

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Suffering as a Christian and Passion Week