Who, on seeing and hearing these things, will be stirred by that recollection of his sins which will raise doubt in his mind: “Will God, if I ask him, forgive me these things by which I am pained and by whose memory I am tormented, things by which, though I abhor them, I go on backsliding. Yet after they have taken place, the pain they give me is even greater than that of a scorpion’s sting. Though I abhor them, I am still in the middle of them, and when I repent of them with suffering I wretchedly return to them again.” This is how many God-fearing people think, people who foster virtue and are pricked with the suffering of compunction, who mourn over their sin; yet human prosperity compels them to bear with the backsliding which results from it. They live between sin and repentance all the time. Let us not be in doubt, O fellow humanity, concerning the hope of our salvation, seeing that he who bore sufferings for our sakes is very concerned about our salvation; his mercifulness is far more extensive than we can conceive, his grace is greater than what we ask for. For the right hand of our Lord is stretched out night and day, while he is on the look out to support, comfort, and encourage everyone—especially to see if he can find any who endure even just a little suffering and grief so that their sins may be forgiven—people who are grieved over the small portion of their righteousness.
St Isaac the Syrian