On the Will of God and Freedom (From St. Silouan’s Wisdom from Mount Athos)

It is a great good to give oneself up to the will of God,” St. Silouan tells us.

What does submission to God really mean?

For one thing, it is manifested through the absence of fear and loss of anxiety, St. Silouan explains.

Resistance to God’s will is the result of pride; the delusion that we can handle everything through our own will and resources.

The proud man does not want to live according to God’s will. He likes to be his own master and does not see that man wisdom enough to guide himself without God.

This is how Silouan lived before he came to know God through the Holy Spirit. Once he submitted his will to God’s, however, his entire orientation to life changed:

My soul submitted to God and now I accept every affliction that befalls me and say: ‘The Lord looks down upon me. What is there to fear?’ …”

Is complete submission to God mere fatalism then? What emerged from our discussion was a resounding “no.”

Fatalism, we decided, was nothing but false serenity while true submission resulted in inner peace through union with God. Fatalism is stasis while submission is a continuous and dynamic journey of ascendance. Fatalism implies resignation and indifference while submission to God’s will is hope and love

Submission to God is not simply tolerating suffering. It gives us deep understanding of the will of God and, hence, the ability to see the world through His eyes and become united with Him.

 The most precious thing in the world is to know God and understand his will, even if only in part.

Fatalism implies surrender to random and arbitrary forces. Submission to God’s will implies the ability to discern God’s presence, love and divine plan behind everything, even pain, illness and hardship. It gives us inner peace found through union with God rather than resignation. The universe is neither random nor indifferent but replete with God’s love. In all circumstances the man who lives according to God’s will “knows that the Lord in his mercy is solicitous for us.”

The inability to discern and submit to God’s will is caused by pride. Pride and reliance on our own will is like “a wall of brass between us and God preventing us from coming near to Him   or contemplating His mercy.”

Acceptance of God’s will requires humility– recognition that we don’t have all the right answers; that our script for what life should be is not necessarily correct; that our sense of superiority over others is the result of our self-absorption preventing us from really listening and understanding. Pride—pushing against the grain to re-shape the world according to our will—leaves us exhausted, resentful, and angry. Accepting God’s will, on the other hand, fills us with gratitude and enables forgiveness.

It is good to live according to God’s will. The soul then dwells unceasingly in God, and is serene and tranquil.





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