Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stubborn Persistence

I was listening to a podcast from Ancient Faith Radio on "Resilience and the Canaanite Woman."
The V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. gives a series of podcasts reflecting on the traditions, prayers, and liturgy of Eastern Orthodoxy with a goal of healing mind, body,and soul. In this particular podcast, Fr. George discusses the importance of "resilience" or "stubborn persistence" in continually turning to Christ for help and mercy. He makes the point that we are to persist stubbornly even when we feel that Christ does not hear us, even when (like the Canaanite woman) we know that we don't deserve His mercy, even when trouble follows trouble in our personal lives, and not to give in to despair; thinking, erroneously, that we should just give up asking for help if no help seems to come.

I would like to make my own comment on this theme of not giving up when we feel that no help is coming. Imagine a life in which your every whim and care were automatically provided for you. Soon you would become accustomed to a trouble-free life of ease. You would not even be aware that trouble existed. However, we do have troubles in our lives. These troubles, instead of leading us to despair over being "left orphan" and uncared for, serve to constantly remind us of our weakness in our physical natures. They lead us to continually turn to Christ praying for His mercy and help in our lives. If we were never aware that we needed help, we would never ask for it. So, when troubles come, instead of thinking, "Oh, no, not again!" Let it serve to remind you that you are not the autonomous, powerful, independent person you think you are; that you need to continuously persist in praying for help. If I do not know my weakness and incompetence, I cannot grow; nor can I have any faith, because it is just when we must depend upon God for help, that we learn faith.

For myself, I find that I tend to just want to give up "beating my head against a wall." I find myself thinking that Christ doesn't care, or He would help me immediately instead of leaving me hanging, so why should I continually humiliate myself begging for help from an uncaring God? I've finally discovered that, far from uncaring, God allows these times of troubles to teach us that our strength is in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:10) This means that we are strongest when we realize our limitations, our true selves, and, like rational beings instead of hysterical ranters against fate, come to God and Christ as our Creator and Savior who knows, i.e. has experienced, our every heartache and trouble and so knows best how to help us. All too often I think I know the best solution or resolution to troubles, and God does not make that solution happen according to my planning. Then, if I can rise above my indignation and hurt pride that the problem was not resolved my way, I can look at the way it actually was resolved, and see that God has resolved it in a way that helps, encourages, and supports each individual involved. This has taught me to look outside of myself; even when I think I am already considering others first and me second, I discover that there is still more "looking outside of myself" that can be done. It's a Mystery.

Now that Great Lent is imminent, we will be facing inner struggles and, often, outward problems, and sometimes even personal or family crises. These trying times seem to come during this time of year when our spiritual struggle is intensified. During the coming weeks, it might be good to remember to be stubbornly persistent, as a little child stubbornly pesters its father, in our prayers.

[Image credit.]


  1. What a great post, thank you! It is so true that we want things handed to us on a silver platter (or at least I do) but it is within the struggle that we are saved.

  2. Mimi, you said that beautifully! " is within the struggle that we are saved." I *know* that, but I'm the type who always wants to dig down deep to find the *how* and *why* of everything (at least the "how and why" that applies to me), so I guess I analyze things to death.

  3. It's good to find someone who is already finding her way into the spirit of the Triodion. I'm having problems with that this year. Since I'm no longer doing the Choir Cues I find I "lose my way" more. I think I'll have to at least go back to looking all the things up, if not typing them up, just for my own spiritual enlightenment!

  4. What a wonderful post. Sometimes I have felt like I lacked faith because I kept asking (not seeing any results). You're right. We are supposed to keep asking.