St. Isaac the Syrian says that there are several ways the devil attacks a person. The goal of these attacks is to make us pull back from our pursuit of godliness. Transformation into the image of Christ is a synergistic experience. We labour together with Christ. On the other hand, it is also all Grace. There is no love, joy, peace or patience (or any other of the fruit of the Spirit) without God first giving Himself to us, for Grace is nothing less than God coming to us.
- “It is permitted by the bidding of Heaven”
- “It [might] be that the man himself grows lax and surrenders himself to shameful thoughts and to distraction”
- [The person] “becomes proud and conceited”
- “Or [the person] accepts thoughts of doubt and cowardliness.”
Our reward is not in this life, it is in the Life to Come. But even in this life, we begin to experience the Life that is to Come. Even now we experience some of the joy, some of the peace, some of the consolation and comfort of Age to Come. Our path through this world is a painful one—nothing can be done to change that. It is the path mankind has chosen. But our God is generous, helping us along the way and granting us a foretaste of the eternal banquet to come. Only let us be courageous. Let us not fear what must be endured anyway. Rather, let us look with hope and joyful anticipation to the prize: the healing of our broken lives by participation in the very Life of God.