on sickness & suffering

The following passage was written by a Christian and church leader named Cyprian about 255 A.D. during a time of plague in North Africa.

“It disturbs some that the power of this disease attacks Christians and pagans alike. They think that if a Christian is immune from contact with evils, then they should happily have full enjoyment in this world and age and be preserved for future joy without experiencing all of the contrary things here. It disturbs some that mortality is common to us as well as to others. For what in the world is not common to us and others, as long as we have this body in common, according to the law of our first birth? As long as we are in this world, we are joined equally with the human race in the flesh, but we are separated in spirit. Therefore, until this corruptible is clothes with incorruption and this mortal receives immortality [1 Cor.15:53], and the Spirit leads us to God the Father, whatever disadvantages of the flesh there may be are common to us and the human race. When there is a lack of food owing to the earth being barren, famine distinguishes no one. When any city is captured by the invasion of an enemy, captivity devastates all alike. When the calm clouds withhold rain, there is one drought for all. When craggy rocks break up a ship, the shipwreck is common to all who sail on the ship without exception. A weakness of the eyes, an attack of fever or health of the members is common to us and others, as long as this common body is borne in the world. Moreover, if the Christian knows and maintains the condition and law in which he believes, he knows that he must have more difficulties than others in this world, since he must struggle with the attacks of the devil.” – Cyprian

Source: Inheriting Wisdom: Readings for Today from Ancient Christian Writers by Everett Ferguson, pp.264

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