Suffering is the surest sign that man is specially chosen by God. He Who showed His love for us to the end through His suffering unto death grants us the possibility of suffering for His Name’s sake, that we may be more perfectly united to Him. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Phil 1:29). If someone turns to God when he is sentenced to death, God will surely hear him. The thief was the first to enter Paradise not simply because he said, “Remember me, O Lord…” but because he pronounced these words on the cross, at the very moment when his life was suspended over the abyss of eternal darkness. If we, as humans, respect the wishes and last words of the dying, how much more does God hear the pleas uttered by them that turn to Him in faith when they are confronted by death!
~Archimandrite Zacharias: “Remember Thy First Love”