How good, how pleasant, how joyful it is to be a Christian! If you are a Christian, you are always with God, and God is always with you. Wherever you are, wherever you go, everywhere you will have God Himself as your Companion.
The grace of God attracts blessings to all of a Christian’s activities. A Christian, in accordance with the Savior’s commandment, seeks, first of all the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and everything else is “added unto him” (Mt. 6:33). If any troubles and sorrows befall him, then a Christian still remains calm and placid.
If he is deceived or treated unfairly, then he says, albeit with a sigh, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And now, instead of earthly blessings, he receives forgiveness of his sins and treasures in Heaven (despite the fact that even our earthly losses are often fully restored).
If he has been humiliated or even become a victim of violence, a Christian nevertheless feels joy instead of despondency, following the example of the apostles, who departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). Imitating the Savior Himself, a Christian prays for his offenders. And his temporary troubles and sorrows, instead of morphing into depression, turn into a confessor’s crown for him, and his soul becomes filled with the peace promised by Christ to His disciples: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you (Jn. 14:27).
If he totally depends on someone, or has been captured or imprisoned, he knows that, having lost external freedom, he has not lost God, Who does not abandon him and helps him overcome any difficulties. Thus, betrayed and sold by his brothers, slandered and thrown into prison, the righteous Patriarch Joseph did not renounce his faith in the all-good God. Both in slavery and in prison, he was not deprived not only of God's care, but also of human goodwill. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison (Gen. 39:2; 21). And the same faith and hope in God eventually elevated Joseph to the second-in-command to the pharaoh.
A Christian cannot be frightened by earthly hardships and even death. St. Basil the Great responded boldly to the royal threats of the confiscation of his property, exile, beatings, and even death:
“All this means nothing for me, since I possess nothing but old worn-out clothing and my few books, of which the entirety of my wealth is comprised. Exile means nothing to me, since I am bound to no particular place. This place in which I now dwell is not mine, and any place you send me shall be mine. Better to say: every place is God’s. Where would I be neither a stranger and sojourner (Ps. 38/39:13)? Who can torture me? I am so weak, that the very first blow would render me insensible. Death would be a kindness to me, for it will bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and labor, and to Whom I hasten.” The prefect brought the sad news to the emperor, saying: “We stand defeated by a leader of the Church”.
A Christian is afraid, by and large, of only one thing: to be separated from the Lord. But he knows that unless he himself walks away from God, no external forces are able to do this. Therefore, a Christian can say with the Apostle Paul:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35; 38-39).
To put it briefly, whatever may happen in a Christian’s life, he accepts everything as the will of God, following the advice of Abba Dorotheus of Gaza: “Do not wish for everything to be done according to your determination, but wish that it is how it should be, and in this way, you will attain peace with everyone.” Strange as it may seem, those who are used to being guided by this rule always live according to their own will, avoiding the source of sorrows common to most of us: “Then, no matter how disinclined he is to fulfill his own will, it turns out that it is always fulfilled. For to one who does not have his own will, everything that happens to him is according to his will.”
The joy of a Christian is of Heavenly origin. Its source is in God, and not in earthly pleasures. Therefore, no earthly sorrows can destroy it. The saints are models of this heavenly joy for us. Those who saw the disciples of the Venerable Apollo (Apollonius) testified of them:
“And we observed their joy in the desert, with which nothing on the earth, and no bodily delight, can be compared, for there was among them no man who was sorry or afflicted with grief, and if any man was found to be in affliction, our father Apollo knew the cause thereof, and was able to make known to him the secret thoughts of his mind. And he would say unto such a one, ‘For they [the men of iniquity] have their happiness in earthly things, and they cultivate the things of earth, and why should not we, who are worthy of the blessed hope, rejoice always, even according to the encouraging words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who said unto us, Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks (1 Thess. 5:16–18)’.”
Therefore, even if a Christian were to lose the entire world, he will have the most important thing—God Himself. And no one will take away this joy from him: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Hab. 3:17-18).
Now all we need is to become such Christians.