If a person walks a straight path, for him there is no cross. However, when he starts to lurch from one side to the other, then different circumstances appear which push him back onto the right track. These elements constitute a cross for a person. Of course they occur differently, according to the individual’s need.

Elder Ambrose of Optina

Like an anchor that keeps a ship secure, so is the Cross in our spiritual life. Our righteous Father also demonstrates the value of challenges and temptations, which he refers to as “circumstances”. The godly-man sees these circumstances as reminders that he has fallen from the royal path.

Contrary to the common western idea of God being vengeful and a seeker of justice, our sacred faith teaches us that we bring woes upon ourselves when we fall away from God and deviate from the royal path. Our God does not punish us but like a loving Father calls us back to Him. As one who backs away from the fire loses light and heat, so do we fall into darkness and cold when we move away from God through our sins.

For a good and man-befriending God art Thou, and unto Thee do we send up glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

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