Here on earth we frequently experience many misfortunes and hardships, but all of these are because we have not humbled ourselves.
At that time there were a lot of deaths on earth. People were snatched unexpectedly and abandoned this life miserably. Then Gregory, a friend of the Saint, asked him: “Tell me, Father, where did this evil come from? Please explain it to me.”
“As you know,” the saint answered, “we commit many sins and we embitter our God, the lover of man, by not doing His will. That’s why He sent us this sickle which cuts us down. For it is written that ‘disobedience breeds death.’ Yesterday I saw a dreadful man threatening the earth and saying to her; shall destroy all the immoral who walk on you, all the drunkards, gluttons, the greedy, usurers, and especially those wallowing in the sodomitic sins.”
“And He said a lot even more serious that you cannot bear to hear! He threatened to destroy us with sickle and sword, because we show no repentance nor any trace of improvement. His glorious Mother and a bald bishop ardently pleaded with Him, but He refused to put if off ‘Are you more compassionate than I am?’ He said to them. ‘Or do you feel more pain than I? Yet you see almost all of them ignore My divine law and no one observes it!’”
“Gregory, my son,” the saint added, “that’s how the awful sickness afflicted many. For it is written: ‘You have cast them down in their exaltation.’ While for the healthy virtuous it says: We heal the broken-hearted. For if God did not have pity on Paul, the great luminary, but permitted a ‘messenger of Satan to harass him, to keep him from being elated,’ due to the abundance of revelations that he had, why wouldn’t He permit the devil to crush us sinners with sickness, until we learn to be humble? It is not enough that we are sinners, we’re proud as well! Besides, the Scripture says that ‘what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’”
Taken from: Stories, Sermons, and Prayers of St. Nephon: An Ascetic Bishop
Prayer: We will be humbled one way or another. Please Lord help us and give us Your grace to choose You and carry our cross to humble ourselves.