Article By H.H Pope Shenouda.
On the occasion of the safe return of H.H Pope Shenouda III to the land of Egypt, here is an article written by him in English. The Pope's articles, in Arabic, English, and French, can be found on his web site http://www.copticpope.org
Do Not Despair
However weak your spiritual life may be, do not despair; for desperation is one of Satan's wars by which he wants to weaken your morals and stop your resistance, to fall in his hands. Even though you despair of yourself, never despair of the grace of God.
If your deeds do not lead you to repentance, God's work for you might do. Sometimes, in your spiritual life, the cause of despair may be setting before you ideals above your level, or taking steps which do not comply with the necessary gradual progress. And because you cannot achieve what you want, you despair. Therefore, it is better to put before you a gradual system within your power and abilities and within the gifts God gave you. Be aware that God wants only one step from you and if you take it He will lead you to the next and so on.
You might despair because you cannot stand before the Lord unless, first, you make yourself better. It is preferable to say to Him I cannot reform myself and then come to you, but I come to You so you can make me better.
Do not despair if you feel that you do not love God. Do not say what is the use of all my works since I do not love Him! Say rather if I do not love God, it is a comfort that He loves me and with His love He can make me love Him.
If you practise the spiritual means but do not feel a true attachment to God, do not despair. Keep on the spiritual readings, even without understanding. Keep on praying, even without warmth, confess always even though you feel no penitence. Perhaps because of your perseverance, the Grace of God may seek you and give you the understanding, warmth and penitence. Your mere perseverance in the spiritual means puts God in your mind even without repentance! But if you despair and break the commandments, you might go downwards and forget God completely. Even if you are in a weak state, do not despair. It is better for you to stay as you are than to be lead through despair to worse.