April 21

Our sufferings for the most part are extremely trifling, so that at first sight it seems impossible to regard them as sufferings at all. But that is only the cunning of our enemy who has acquired in the struggle with feeble man uncommon skill and experience, thanks to long practice. The fallen spirit saw that cruel, coarse, obvious temptations (sufferings) provoke in people flaming zeal and courage to bear them. He saw this, and changed his tactics. He changed his coarse temptations to weak but subtle ones which act very powerfully. They do not evoke zeal from our heart, they do not cause it to struggle, but they keep it in a kind of irresolute state and fill the mind with doubt.

They weary and gradually exhaust the powers of a man’s soul, they throw him into despondency and inaction, and they ruin him by making him an abode of passions on account of his weakness, despondency, and inertia….

We must not give way to listlessness, despondency, and inertia. On the contrary, let us direct all our attention and all our energy to carrying out the commandments of the Gospel. This obedience will reveal to us the countless snares of the enemy, and that cunning forethought with which his traps are planned and set. We shall see that the outwardly slight troubles and trials of today are directed, like the grim troubles and trials of old, to draw men away from Christ and to destroy true Christianity on earth, only leaving the shell to deceive people more easily. We shall see that temptations that are slight but are planned and carried out with hellish wickedness act much more successfully in the eyes of Satan than grave but obvious and direct attacks.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

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