The brother said to the old man, ’So, man does not advance towards any reward without bodily affliction?’ The old man said to him, ‘Truly it is written: “Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) David also said: “I will not give sleep to my eyes, nor slumber to my eyelids,” until I find a place for the Lord.’ (Psalm 13:2-4)
— Abba Cronius of the Desert
This saying deals with the concept of suffering as an integral part of the Christian walk. Suffering as a precursor to reward is a most difficult and controversial concept. There are Christians that believe that without self-imposed suffering there is no reward. The main thrust of the monk’s words are that scripture leads us to believe that suffering and perseverance are an inbuilt part of our journeys. During this Lenten season we are all called to be aware that suffering is not punishment, but may well be God’s way of teaching us how to come closer to Him. After all, through Jesus, He suffered more than we can ever conceive.