Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might
become free from care. He went and told an old man this: ‘I find myself in peace, without an enemy,’ he said. The old man said to him, ‘Go, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress.’ So he besought God and when warfare came, he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.
—- sayings of the Desert
The popular cry is deliverance, but the old man gives us a different cry, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’ As difficult as it is, we must acknowledge that in our trials, salvation comes to our souls. Preachers and politicians tell us that all adversity will be taken away, and they have the formula for removing these obstacles from our lives. None of us wants to hear the message of endurance and strength. When such a message is proclaimed, we know that the problems of life must be faced, and we must walk in the valley from time to time. That in itself is a very loathsome thought, but the resolve and fortitude we acquire through these times will carry us to new spiritual heights. The wise old man points in the direction of inner strength, a quality that can only be learned by walking in the valley. For in the midst of our darkest times, our relationship and knowledge of God blossoms, and a vital relationship is created. Pray to God for this strength.