Fr. Bishoy Kamel1 visited a sick person who was complaining from pain in his back. Abouna Pishoy started to give him words of solace, but the man answered, "I'm not asking God to take away my illness. I only ask Him to give me the strength to stand up for prayer and take from me the severe headache that hinders me from praying 'Our Father.' As long as the headache was there, I couldn't concentrate on one word."
Abouna Pishoy replied, "Don't be upset if you are not able to attend church or stand up for prayer, or even say 'Our Father,' because you participate in Jesus' suffering. Give thanks for this participation. For Jesus also suffered back pain under the heavy burden of the cross."
Some days later, when this sick man came to
the church, Abouna Pishoy greeted him with his usual smile. The sick man said, "I am upset with God because whenever I got used to the pain and felt the sweetness of the suffering and counted myself unworthy of that suffering, He cured me." Abouna Pishoy Kamel considered suffering with Jesus to be the greatest kind of worship.1 In our case, the man fell short of being in the church, as far as attendance and prayer are concerned. But, through suffering, our bodies become a temple for the crucified and our life becomes a ceaseless prayer.
I remember that I had a friend who was serving with me in the church. He was looking forward to being a monk. He loved the monastic life. But his father of confession was also a monk and he told him not to be hasty: "Be patient, there is no rush."
One day this friend came to his father of confession and said, "I don't have enough time for labor and service. I feel that I'm wasting time. I want to devote myself to worship, however, and I have had so many troubles in work."
The father replied with great wisdom, "The time will come for you to devote yourself to worship. However, wait and be patient. Train yourself now to exercise the patience since it is a very good opportunity to share in Jesus' suffering and crucifixion. It is very easy to pray, to meditate, and to praise God which are important and necessary in Christianity. But without suffering, how will you share in Jesus’great love?
O Long-suffering, Give me Your long-suffering. Give me joy on Your Cross. Mix my worship with Your suffering My depth rejoices with You forever.
---------------------------------------------------->1 Fr. Pishoy suffered from cancer at the end of his life. "The Coptic Church, when celebrating the Feast of the Cross chants its tunes according to those of the Palm Sunday hymns, i.e. the tunes of joyous exultation. In conformity and identification with his beloved Church, Fr. Pishoy overcame the pain by rejoicing, for even before being attacked by cancer, he called it ‘the disease unto the Kingdom.’ While he lay in bed with pain with patience, silence and a fixed gaze on the Cross. As for the interval between the brutal attacks of pain, they were spent in chanting hymns of praise and glorification.Another means by which this ardent disciple of Christ soothed his agony was listening to a recorded tape of the five chapters of The Book of Lamentations. This joyous endurance of Abouna filled all the hearts with comfort and joy. They too, saw in him the Apostle Paul who offered his pain as his credential (2 Cor. 11:21-33), for he transformed pain into a life with God, and disease into evangelism." (The Story of Father Pishoy Kamel: Magnetic Radiation; by Iris Habib El Masry, pp. 25,26; Pub. St. George Church Bookstore, Sporting, Alexandria, Egypt).Other books by or about Fr. Pishoy Kamel include, The Cross: As Lived by Rev. Fr. Pishoy Kamel (two short booklets- St. George Church Library, Sporting Alexandria, Egypt and The Holy Apostles & St. Apanoub Church, Black Town, N.S.W., Australia),Pastoral Work in the Life of Father Pishoy Kamel, by Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty (St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church-St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Jersey City, New Jersey and St. Peter & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, Santa Monica California)From the Fruits of Paradise: Sayings by Fr. Pishoy Kamel (St. George & St. Joseph Coptic Orthodox Church, Roseboro, Quebec, Canada).