Thursday, July 21, 2011


To another mother who grieved over her daughter's illness, the Elder wrote: "I have heard that you are grieving beyond measure, seeing your sick daughter's suffering. Truly, it is humanly impossible for a mother not to grieve when she sees her little one in such pain and suffering day and night. In spite of that, you should remember that you are a Christian who believes in the future life and the future blessed reward not only for labors, but also for voluntary and involuntary suffering. Therefore, you must not become unreasonably faint­hearted and sorrowful beyond measure, like the pagans or unbelievers who believe in neither eternal blessedness nor eternal punishment. No matter how great are the involuntary sufferings of your little child S., they cannot after all be compared to the voluntary sufferings of the martyrs; and if they do compare, then she is equal to them and will receive a blessed state in the paradisal abodes. By the way, you must not forget also about our twisted times, in which even little children's souls are damaged by what they see and hear, and therefore require cleansing, which cannot occur without suffering. The cleansing of the soul happens most often through physical suffering. Let us suppose that there was no damage to the soul. Even so, you must know that paradisal blessedness is not given to anyone who has not first suffered. Do even the tiniest infants pass into the future life without sickness or suffering? By the way, I do not write this way because I wish that the suffering child S. would die, but I write particularly for your consolation, enlightenment, and true persuasion, not to grieve unreasonably and beyond measure. No matter how much you love your daughter, you must know that our all-good God, Who uses any means for our salvation, loves her more than you do. He Himself bears witness in the Holy Scripture as to His love for every believer, saying: Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee (Is. 49:15). Therefore try to calm your sorrowing over your sick daughter, turning this sorrow over to God: Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself(Eph. 1:9). I advise you to commune your daughter following a confession. Ask the confessor to question her wisely and carefully during the confession."

- Elder Ambrose of Optina