XVI. He who receives no help when at war should feel no confidence when at peace.*
The External Crisis
A crisis, a war or pandemic, tests the character of people. The pressure is high, routines that regulate our emotions are disrupted, and fearful events are happening to us and around us. There is a great temptation to save oneself. Worse, some will use a crisis to increase personal power at the expense of other people.
We must look for helpers. Pray and find those that are calm and carry on in love. In the “war,” a community can be forged and those helpers can be trusted. If help was there in the crisis, then we can have confidence in the peace. The people who did not become selfish, protecting their own interests, but showed solidarity with the community will continue to do so in the good times!
Follow a leader who gives help, because he or she will attract helpers! Having sown loyalty in the past, they will receive loyalty in the crisis. Oddly, the help we did not receive in the hard times should be cautionary about those who come during victory. Those that had other things to do in the crisis will flock to us as our friends when peace returns. These “helpers” were not forged by the crisis and so are brittle. They are helpers for hire and we should have no confidence in them, because they are undermining the purity of the organization or community. These false helpers set up the rapid collapse of the team. They subtly change the philosophy of the group: power or money hungry and not focused on the people or the mission.
They will give lip service to the community or the mission, but if they wormtongue to positions of power in the peace, by the time of the next crisis, and crisis always returns, then they will save self and ruin all those around them. If you could not trust a leader to help in a time of crisis, you should trust him even less in times of peace. He is building his keep by tearing down the walls that protect the rest of the community!
If there is no help in war, then there can be no confidence when at peace.
The Internal Crisis
This wisdom from Saint Nikodimos has a deeper application to spiritual war. When attacked, tempted to hatred by personal circumstances and crisis, we pray, our citadel against demons. Prayer can save us, though not always as we wished. God is always answering. He delights to give us what we wish, though what we wish is not always possible or what is best. God grants each one of us what is best in the light of eternity and every other person in the cosmos. The good God during the conflict not fail us, but we do not always feel this way.
We pray and turn to the helps God provides. Is there a medical doctor? We should go and find the help that is there. Is there a psychologist or therapist nearby? If needed, can we go with joy and find the help that is there? Can we take the medicine found in a wise spiritual mother or father? We pray and seek out the wisdom that is there. The time of war should cause us to look to the helpers, those who will ally with us.
Why? Times of warfare force us the church, civil society, and the deep things of God. We must find help and so we do. If we do not, cannot, then some short respite, seeming peaceful times in our souls should give us no confidence. We have to beware the dangerous peace of a dull soul, a deadened intellect, isolation from the church and wise souls. The time of peace can be more dangerous to our souls. We may not look for help, even if we need help and so when the demonic attacks come, we fall instantly.
The value of this pandemic time is leaders are revealed, our souls are pushed to helpers, and we prepare for peace.
God send us sacrificial leaders, prayerful souls, and wholesome communities that help in the evil times and so can be trusted to help in the good days.
*Saint Nikodimos. The Philokalia: The Complete Text . Lulu.com. Kindle Edition.