I read from The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers (published by Holy Apostles Convent) almost every night before going to sleep. Lately, I’ve been reading about St. Thecla of Iconium.
Thecla was an apostle of St. Paul. She heard him preaching at her neighbor’s house and was won for Christ. She sought out his teaching, and he taught her that the nobler course for her life would be to preserve her virginity rather than marry the man to whom she was betrothed.
Thecla underwent many torments, and most of those were in Paul’s absence. Finally, when Thecla was reunited with Paul, he said to her,
“I know, my beloved daughter, that thou was saddened when I left thee; but know this, it was to thy benefit that I did this, so thou might not take courage in my person. It is in the Lord Whom thou shouldest place thy hope with all thy heart, not in thy friends and kinfolk. Thus, this is what came about when thou didst overcome so many torments with His might and help.”
In my own life, I know I have at times relied too heavily on my own spiritual father. He “leaves” me at times – usually when I am feeling most unable to bear whatever trials I think I’m experiencing at the moment. It’s for my own spiritual good, though – and this is true whether he is intentionally leaving me to fight the spiritual battle on my own, or whether he is just tired of my whining. God always works it for my good, and I always come away knowing that the One I need to trust is the Lord.
Other times, I lament to myself that “I am all alone”, and I punctuate that statement with a long sigh. I wonder whether I have any true friends; even my family seems distant. But again…who do I need, but my Lord Jesus?
And when I’m alone and struggling against the demons, I try to remember the Hermitess Photini who said that she knew she was not strong enough to fight the demons, and so when they attacked, she said, “I run to my Christ.” There is where the protection lies; in Him is where I must put my trust.