The horrifying incident of the martyrdom of Father Arsanius Wadid, priest of the church of the Holy Virgin and St Paul the Apostle in Karmouz, Alexandria, at the hands of a lost soul who stabbed him to death on 7 April, has shaken us all. The stabber now stands before justice. I wrote then on the incident, expressing my feelings towards the Egyptian nation and Church, and quoting the words of condolence extended by Egypt’s leadership and public, Muslims and Christians. Their words expressed genuine sympathy and shocked outrage at the reoccurrence of such a crime now that a climate of conciliation, modernisation and citizenship has prevailed for close to a decade.
Faced with the pain and wrath of so many Copts, and the rejection and denouncement of the crime by so many Muslims, I found myself contemplating the right thing to do. Do I pour oil on the fire of pain and anger? Or do I attempt to absorb the raging emotions through holding the heinous crime within its actual limits, and shedding light on how to comprehend God’s will in everything that happens in our lives. This would help curb the impulse by some to counter violence with violence and hatred with hatred, implicating thus the nation in pointless, tragic conflict that can only bring waste and ruin.
I still had to offer a good answer to those who asked: Are we back to the time of terrorism? Have we lost our sense of security? How do we cope with the fear, pain and loss? Before I venture on answers to these questions, let me stress that I am fully confident that justice will be achieved.
I was spellbound, however, at a spiritual message I received on 9 April from a dear friend who aptly sends me a daily spiritual message for which I am endlessly grateful. It is my innate feeling that these messages reflect a Divine care that constantly addresses my need in every situation; it never ceases to awe me how apt and timely they are. They indisputably convey the redeeming love of God that fulfils every need in all situations. Let me share with you the message I received on 9 April, following the stabbing of Fr Arsanius:
““Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12).
“The numerous and various forms of suffering dealt to us by this world are no longer for Christians non-understandable or a source of debate. It is not acceptable for a Christian to ask: ‘why do I suffer all this pain?’, ‘why does God allow my oppression and humiliation?’, or ‘why all the trials and distresses?’
“Pain is the lot of every human; it is normal for everyone to suffer pain and sorrow. But for Christians especially the suffering has become a means to express their love, compliance, faithfulness, patience and hope in Christ; through them they earn the heavenly kingdom. Christ’s pain and death on the Cross, and His Resurrection, are the answer to why God allows pain, illness, sorrow, and death?
We will perceive pain and sorrow as meaningless and pointless, and will find no definition or explanation to them, until we accept and welcome them as Christ the Lord did. Only then will we discover a new dimension of pain, and only then will we stop looking for an explanation to it. Rather, we will find that our acceptance of pain in contentment and peace is the wondrous means that leads us to grasp the sublime meaning of love. Then will we realise that there is no greater reward for the pain, sorrow, sickness, distress or injustice that we undergo and tolerate, than the sense of transcending them. The pain and suffering correctly depict the world as it stands today; those who tolerate them with thankfulness and joy triumph over the entire world.”
I believe the message received from my friend is a timely one from the Heavenly Father Himself to answer an urgent need, calm our souls, and sooth our troubled senses. I pray for the Lord to bestow on us the wisdom to stand together during this hard time, to testify to our faith, and to defend our beloved nation.
13 April 2022