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The Positive Meaning of Sickness and Suffering

St. John Chrysostom said “If the soul is in good health, bodily illness can in no way harm a man”. Dostoyevsky said “A healthy man is always an earthy, material man but as soon as he falls ill and the normal earthy order of his organism is disturbed then the possibility of another world makes itself known to him at once.” This is what St. Paul is talking about in Romans 7:24, illness turns the person toward God.

So we can say that God uses every illness to speak to us about our salvation and expresses his willingness to help us attain it.

If we look at illness strictly as a phenomenon by itself will certainly lead s to see it as something negative. This only increases the physical suffering and pain and spiritually becomes destructive as well.

The devil that has no mercy or compassion and no good sentiments towards any human being can use the illness to stir such things as fear, anxiety, anger, despair, and revolt against God.

Sentiment like that does not help heal the body but on the contrary make the person worse off.

St. John Chrysostom further says that we should be vigilant when illness strikes. “It is not in vain nor without reason that we are subject to illness.”

When we get ill, we should always look at it from the perspective of our relationship to God. We then can throw some positive light on the pain.

St. Gregory also offers some sound wisdom. He says that we should not “agonize over our suffering as if it were incurable and irredeemable.”

We can very often blame God for our suffering. We can say “where was God when I got sick?’ There is a fundamental truth about this which we often forget. Pain and suffering are actually a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve. This is one of the results of mankind’s original revolt against God. Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be carried away by pride.

There is a very profound lesson in every sickness that comes our way. Ultimately our illnesses help us to heal our relationships firstly with God and then with our fellow citizens. They can be a great source of inspiration to family and friends and to the church.

One only has to read the story of our Ukrainian martyrs who bore their suffering with grace and now are an example of ultimate humanity to the whole world.


This post is also available in: Ukrainian

About Ivan Mysiv

Fr. Ivan was born in Lviv, Ukraine in 1988 AD. He graduated from the Lviv Holy Spirit Seminary in 2013 AD after he completing a Master's degree from Ukrainian Catholic University in 2012. On the 13th of October 2013 he received diaconal ordination from Bishop Benedict, the auxiliary Bishop of the Archeparchy of Lviv. On the 23rd of February he became a priest by the laying on of hands by Bishop Ken, Eparch of New Westminster for Ukrainian Catholics in British Columbia and Yukon in Canada. He arrived in Australia in December 2014 AD.