The secret? To struggle to acquire the grace of God.
We benefit greatly from our illnesses, as long as we endure them without complaint and glorify God, asking for His mercy. When we become ill, the important thing is not that we don’t take medicines or that we go and pray to Saint Nektarios. We need also to know the other secret, namely, to struggle to acquire the grace of God. This is the secret. Grace will teach us all the other things, namely, how to abandon ourselves to Christ. That is, we ignore the illness, we do not think about it, we think about Christ, simply, imperceptibly and selflessly and God works His miracle for the good of our soul. Just as we say in the Divine Liturgy, ‘we commend all our life to Christ our God.’
Grace will teach us all the other things, namely, how to abandon ourselves to Christ.
But we need to wish to ignore the illness. If we don’t wish to, it’s difficult. We can’t simply say, ‘I ignore it’. And so although we think that we are ignoring it and giving no thought to it, in point of fact we have it in our mind continually and we cannot find peace within ourselves. Let me prove this to you. We say: ‘I believe that God will cure me. I won’t take any medicine. I’ll stay awake all night and I’ll pray to God about it and He will hear me.’ We pray all night long, we make entreaty, we call on and coerce God and all the saints to make us well. We go to one place and another. With all these things don’t we show that we are far from ignoring the illness? The more we insist and blackmail the saints and God to make us well, the more acutely we feel our illness. The more we strive to get rid of it, the more we feel it. And so we achieve nothing. And we have the impression that a miracle will happen, and yet, in reality, we don’t believe it, and so we do not become better.
We pray and we don’t take medicine, but we don’t find any peace and no miracle happens. But you will say: ‘What do you mean that I don’t believe? Don’t you see I haven’t taken any medicine?’ And yet, at bottom, we have doubt and fear within us and we think to ourselves, ‘Will it really happen?’ Here the words of Scripture hold good:
If you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be lifted up and thrown into the sea’, it will be done. When faith is real, whether you take medicine or not, the grace of God will act.
And God acts through doctors and medicines.