Trials, pain and suffering in life are powerful means of purification. According to Maximus the Confessor, “Trials are sent to some in order to take away past sins, in others so as to eradicate sins now being committed, and to yet others so as to forestall sins which may be committed in the future. These are distinct from the trials that arise in order to test men in the way that Job was tested.” Meanwhile, Nicodemus the Hagiorite said that, “The more troubled and distressed a person is in the present world, the more his nous . . . [the heart of his soul] transcends the narrow confines of this world. He goes beyond the height of heaven and finally arrives at an immeasurably wide open space. Once there, he rejoices and finds repose in the sweet theoria of God. Even before the dissolution of his body, he lives a blessed and happy life.”
Three causes of suffering exist: the Devil and his demon-minions, other people and our fallen nature . . . Sufferings arising from the first two causes “do not touch the inner state of the soul, so with a little patience the sufferer receives abundant grace. The third cause . . . [however, can] create a dreadful state.”
Met. Hierotheos. (2010). The science of spiritual medicine. Levadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery.