Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I am having a very hard time trying to understand why my life is so upside down. I feel that I have been abandoned by God, or that he does not exist. For eight years I have battled with infertility and now my marriage is falling apart. When I try to pull it back together I make it worse. I don't have a job and my husband wants a divorce. I have nowhere to go without being a burden to someone else. I have been praying but don't even feel God's presence; I feel nothing but an empty void and anger towards God to the point that I have had sinister thoughts of killing myself. How do I know God exists?

There are many tribulations and struggles in this earthly life. No one can avoid them nor simply wish them to go away. The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy." (John 16:20)

In the Holy Book of Revelation 7:9-17 tells us a beautiful story: "Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him, 'Sir you know.' So he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple. And He who sits on the Throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the Throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Pain and tribulations are sure signs of being worthy of eternal joy.

How do you overcome worldly struggles? First is repentance, followed by confession. If you do not have a confessor father, get one, if you do not know how, when or where to begin this road of repentance, your confessor father will help you.

Start to think positively about how to overcome your disappointment at not having children. If God does not want you to have children of your own, you can still be a mother to a motherless child in an orphanage. Volunteer at a Coptic orphanage to assist with the children there. Take part in social activities for them, for example outings with the church. Offer to help your neighbor in baby sitting for her if she needs to go out to do some errands. Nieces and Nephews are wonderful to get close too.

Despair is a ditch we allow ourselves to crawl into when things are not as we want them to be. Hope, however, takes us out of that ditch of self centeredness and self pity and put us on a path totally different. It might not be the same path we have drawn for ourselves in our imagination, but it sure is a path that starts with faith in God and ends up with love for Him and for those around us.

Think of the “narrow gate” spiritual principal that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about in the Holy book of Mathew. This principal entails going through life with a firm belief that we as believers will for sure encounter trials and tribulations which we have to walk through with patience and perseverance never doubting for a minute that our God is a good God who sees and hears us when we seek him in repentance, prayer and supplication and that he will come in due time to relieve us of the pressure and pain.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we emerge as strong spiritual beings who do not worry any more about worldly desires but look forward to becoming like Christ who has offered his life for them, and serve as His ambassadors on this earth.

If your marriage is experiencing difficulties, perhaps you and your husband need to go to the same confession father together. Repentance can often mean walking on a rough road. It may have taken eight years to make your marriage less than desirable and more than likely it will take some time to make it stronger. Tell your husband you do not want a divorce. Ask him to pray with you. Perhaps you should set aside your desires (children, job) and focus on what made your marriage work initially. At all times God should be central to your marriage.

No one can deny the role of the grace of God in any good work when a person ardently tries such as putting himself into the Father's Hands. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). If you do not feel the Lord's presence in your life, if you do not request and implore His presence, nothing will be secure.

Jeremiah cried out to God saying, "Restore me, and I will return, for You are the Lord my God" (Jeremiah 31:18). If you will notice Jeremiah did not place earthly matters such as a good job, restored marriage, children, above God the Almighty. You have to have the will to ask the Lord to restore you, and the determination to live with Him. St Augustine tells us, "God who created you without you, does not save you without you." This means that you did not participate in creating yourself but when it comes to the salvation of your soul, God will expect you to have a role in it, and that is by submitting your will to the process of salvation.

Part of this determination again is repentance and confession. The Lord Jesus Christ will accompany all those who walk along the road of repentance. He comforts, offers support and provides strength to all those who welcome Him in his heart.

Satan likes to trap people in despair by entangling them in the worries and demands of this life. This way he ensures keeping them away from the fountain of Life, which is Jesus Christ, and His teachings manifested in the church, and its practices. Once you allow Satan to immobilize you, you will become like a tree pulled out with its roots when still young. However, Satan finds it very difficult to pull out a tree that has its roots well established firmly in the ground.

My reply has offered only a beginning. Your confessor father will offer you continuing assistance once you get in contact with one. I encourage you to continue in praying, continue in reading the Holy Bible and fasting, and continue in worshiping more frequently until you find solace in the comfort that only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide.

The apostle Paul told us, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). If a person's faith is strong enough, mountains can be moved, miracles and wonders can occur, and the person will enjoy living in light rather than darkness.

May God bless you as you strive through the spiritual attacks you are facing at this stage in your life. Always remember striving as the weapon to be used in the winning and conquering of life.
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