'Pain, illness misfortune, and any difficulty should be seen as a blessing, allowing us to reach theosis, to reach the true communion with God. That is why it is crucial we respond to these instances, in order to reach our ultimate objective in life..salvation.' ('Will only the Orthodox Christians be Saved', Σπουδάγματα 2014)
However, there is an unfortunate tendency, in these problematic situations which we find ourselves in, to create our own god of our own problems and gaps. Of course it is understandable that when we are in a vulnerable situation, we will become more prayerful, asking for God's help and mercy - but at the same time, when He answers our prayers, gives us what is best for us, heals our illnesses, do we then continue praying in thanksgiving and appreciation? Usually, we do not. If things do not appear to be going our way, and we are left at the deep end, the god of our own desires and needs certainly exists and we are suddenly pious and thirsty for a 'spiritual' uplift. In these cases, it is more of a temporary psychological need, that fills in our own insecurities. We completely romanticise the reality of God, His will, what a relationship with Him actually entails and means, as well as the Christian life. Of course Christ healed and saved His servants Who ran to Him, being in vulnerable situations, sickness and disease.. however throughout the Gospel, these people, running to the Lord with hope, were prepared to give up everything for Him, and would have continued their lives sharing this hope and love with their fellows. Saint Lazarus was resurrected from the dead by Christ, for a reason. He went out establishing Christ's Church, preaching and proclaiming His Gospel. In this same way, we must respond to the answers to our prayer - by glorifying God's name, sharing His love with the people who lack it, and bearing spiritual fruit. Christ tells us He is 'The Way, and the truth, and the life..' (John 14:6), which means a never ending commitment and struggle, the very meaning of our individual lives, rather than an 'add-on' to our daily routines, or a contact in the phonebook in case of a crisis or emergency. I wonder how many people believe in 'god', and pray, when they are searching for a partner, when they have certain social relational problems and needs, or when their flight suddenly hits severe turbulence. Does getting out of a difficult situation, automatically mean we are free from the need of a relationship with our Creator? A very good example is when we visit monasteries - we often read spiritually uplifting books, discuss theology, dress piously, often sensing and experiencing the presence of God; and when this visit comes to an end, in which direction do we steer our lives? Do we go back down the road we came from, existing as the complete opposite character, or should we perhaps make this peaceful, spiritual and fruitful few days an everyday reality within the context of our family lives?
Even though God, as Father of all, will of course answer everyones humble prayers, it is clear that when we only approach, believe and trust in Him when it suits us, in a time of need and pain, our relationship with Him will never grow, and our faith will simply be in vain. Frequent prayer and communion with our Lord and God, renews, refreshes and maintains a stable and growing relationship with Him, and this is needed in order to experience and witness His true existence and love. The 'god' of our minds, troubles and needs is something entirely different, to the personal, true, saving and loving God, revealed to us through history, its people, and above all through His body, the Church.