My phys-ed teacher back in junior high told us boys:”When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” We young lads were part of the way through our Presidential Fitness testing and we all were showing signs of wear and tear! Our instructor used those very words to inspire us and for us to give this test our best effort.
There are also times in adulthood when we are already weary and too exhausted with the daily chores and tests of life. Fr. John Moses would take that statement and change it to let us know that we never need to go to battle alone. He would say:” When the going gets tough, the tough call their priest!”
There are also many stories of faith testing lived by the saints of the church, and the one that comes to mind today is read in the Epistle in the Book of Acts 16:16-34. Being drug off, beat with rods and cast into the darkness of prison, the going was very rough for Saints Paul and Silas! They were cast into the inner prison and their feet were bound in stocks. And when their going was tough and seeming hopeless, Saints Paul and Silas began to pray and sing praises unto the Lord!
Well needless to say, I am way, way far from sainthood! When my going gets tough I am usually not thankful but instead mad and blaming everyone and everything for my current obstacle course. Poor little ole me!! I do eventually try to wrestle with my negativity but it seems like I am in the wrestling ring with Andre the Giant, greatly outnumbered and fundamentally overwhelmed. By the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit, eventually I am able to stop being narrow minded and selfish and look for the beams of light giving me hope, and then count my many, many blessings and press on! Tomorrow will bring a new day and a new opportunity to strengthen the Kingdom of Heaven, or at least in my little part of my world. Maybe I can shed a little light where He takes me.
St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).
Let’s face it; the going is going to get tough! You came naked into this world. You will also leave naked. You arrived weak. And weak you will depart. You came without money and things. You will leave without money and things. (Ecclesiastes 5:15-20) St. Nikolai Velimirovich puts it this way: “What does it mean to take up your cross? I means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered. Do great catastrophes fall on you? Be obedient to God’s will, as Noah was. Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God’s hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son. Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did. Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God’s help is at hand, as the apostles did.”(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 1)
It is time to get going! Saints Paul and Silas, pray to God for us!!!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-6-2021