The Lord loves us more dearly than we can love ourselves
It is very hard for us to believe that God loves us as much as He does. It’s hard to believe because our hearts and minds are so caught up in this empty and ever-changing world. We think we have life in this world somewhat figured out, and just then, WHAM!, everything changes. And we wonder, if God loves us, why is life so painful and confusing?
When times are good for us, we can come up with all sorts of arguments to explain away the pain of others and the existential angst we occasionally experience in our wealth and privilege. But when times are bad, all logic and arguments fail. Then what we think we believe is stripped down to what we actually believe. And sometimes we are frightened by just how paltry our faith seems to be, frightened by how quickly we lose the certainty that we had a short time ago.
St. Siouan understood what it is to lose certainty, to be overwhelmed by pain and confusion. He was a saint who had seen the Light of God and had visions of Christ and the Holy Theotokos; and then, with no warning or explanation, God took it all away from him—for fifteen years. And yet, toward the end of his life, St. Siouan could say, “The Lord Loves us more dearly than we can love ourselves.” The Saint goes on to explain:
“But the soul [person] in her distress supposes that the Lord has forgotten her, even has no wish to look upon her, and she suffers and pines. But [this] is not so, brethren. The Lord loves us without end, and gives us the grace of the Holy Spirit, and comforts us. It is not the Lord’s desire that the soul should be despondent and in doubt concerning her salvation. Believe and be sure that we continue in suffering only until we humble ourselves; but so soon as we humble ourselves there is an end to affliction, for the Divine Spirit discloses to the soul, because of her humility, that she is saved.”
Why is humility so hard for us? It’s hard because this humbling of ourselves, of our souls, is not what we are used to. We are used to being in control, or at least somewhat in control. We are not used to trusting God for what we don't see, don't understand. We are used to rights and privileges and opportunities. We are not used to the constraint that all humble people experience. We are used to our own will, not to “Thy will be done.”
During these days of floods, changing covid regulations, and fluctuating financial markets, let’s run to humility. Let’s entrust ourselves and each other and our whole life to Christ our God. There really is no other way to be saved.