Suffering and Pain

This is a work in progress.  At present, I am collecting quotes and teachings from the Church Fathers that teach us that suffering is part of healing the nous.  They teach of a balance that also allows for therapy and comfort as well.

St. John Chyrsostom shares about his own physical illness with his dear friend, Olympia a deaconess who struggled with the mental affliction of depression:

"And arising from the gates of death, I write to your modesty the following...The winter being bitter more than usual, it has made my stomach's winter worse for me.  I passed these two months no better than the dead.  Things were still worse, everything was like a night for me.  Night and day, morning and night were difficult for me, and I remained confined to bed all day long, contemplating thousands of things, but I could not throw off the harm of the cold.1

He then writes about her suffering:

And even though staying at home, and remaining bed-ridden, do not think that you live a life without a content.  Because you endure a constant and familiar executioner, as you have excessive sickness.  Therefore, do no wish death, nor neglect therapy, for this is not safe [to neglect it.]  That is what Paul especially advised Timothy:  to take care of himself.2

It is interesting to note how deeply affected St. John was by this affliction.  This can encourage us who suffer physically or emotionally to not despair or act as if something strange were happening to us as St. Timothy mentions in his epistle.

Is is important also to mention that St. John Chysostom does not encourage St. Olympia to just "trust in God" and to avoid therapy.  On the contrary, he encourages her not to neglect therapy or taking care of herself.  He also reframes her constant suffering as a useful to her salvation that it is serving a purpose.


-to be continued-





1Epistle 6:  To My Lady and Reverend Olympias the God-Loving, from John the Bishop--Greetings in the Lord, MPG 52, A 598 as cited in The Pain by Georgia P. Kounavi, Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece, 1994. 

2 Epistle 4, 3-4, MPG 52, 594 s cited in The Pain by Georgia P. Kounavi, Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece, 1994. 



An Appendix to C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain By R. Havard, M.D.

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