Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemessos
Often when we go to sad events, we all say, with the best will in the world- and we’re partially right- that it’s God’s will. And, of course, if we can understand properly, those are, indeed, words of comfort, words that give us strength. Since it’s what God wants, since God decided this was to happen, we trust in his providence.
But to be precise, these words aren’t strictly true. God doesn’t want these things to happen. God doesn’t bless them. He knows about them, but doesn’t want them. They can’t be identified with God, with his will or his knowledge. God knows everything. What we have to know is that God isn’t the cause of our evils. The cause of our evils is our apostasy from God. In the most profound sense, the cause of our evils is the fact that we’ve allowed corruption and death to enter our lives, from the time of the fall onwards.
What is God’s attitude and our own towards the difficult events which happen to us on a daily basis? God comes and reminds us that, yes, death is the greatest victory of the devil, in that he destroys the image of God, us people; in that he disrupts the harmony between body and soul; in that he’s able to put an end to our beautiful human personality. But then God comes and willingly takes death upon himself for our sake.
He himself enters death and sets all of us free of it. And, as a result, he’s given each of us the opportunity to live with him eternally, in reality. To overcome death. Not when we die and thereafter, but in this life, every day, when we taste the body and blood of Christ, when we live in the Church, experience the events of the Church to the ages of ages. It never stops. Death doesn’t end it. Death doesn’t dissolve us, but gives us the chance to proceed to God’s eternal kingdom. In this way, we learn to judge the events of life not from the side we’re on now, but from the side of God. From the side beyond. We judge everything from the side of God’s eternal kingdom. Because our present life is fleeting. It’s 70, 80, 90, maybe even 100 years. But eternity’s boundless, endless. It has no end. And people aren’t appraised over the 80 years or so that they live, but they’re judged, that is they’re seen as beings, as entities that do, indeed, have a beginning, but who live eternally.
So the difficulties of this life find a response, or better, a correlation in God’s eternal kingdom. To put it another way, that’s where everything’s redeemed.
The sufferings of the present time, our efforts, our sorrows, our death, all of these things, can be properly understood when we see ourselves in the kingdom of God. That’s where we realize that God vindicates us. God doesn’t allow injustice to persist. He doesn’t allow injustice to remain eternally, but vindicates it in his kingdom.