Updated: Jun 14
Illness, then, is only evil in appearance. It can even constitute a blessing for man, in the sense that, if one uses it appropriately, one can draw from it considerable spiritual benefit.
As for illness, it is in itself something evil to the extent that it arises as a consequence of the sin of Adam and as an effect of demonic activity within the fallen world. As such, it is a negation of the order God intended when He created the world and mankind. Nonetheless, it is evil only on the level of physical nature and the body. If one does not give oneself over to it entirely, illness cannot injure one's soul, nor can it affect one's essential being, one's spiritual nature. According to Christ's own teaching, a person should fear whatever can make perish in Gehenna both body and soul, but he need have no fear of what can effect his body alone, without bringing death to his soul (Matthew 10:28)
By itself illness does not have the power to separate man from God; therefore from a spiritual point of view it cannot be considered to be a source of evil in his life. St. John Chrysostom notes:
If the soul is in good health, bodily illness can in no way harm a man. Illness, then, is only evil in appearance.
It can even constitute a blessing for man in the sense that, if one uses it appropriately, one can draw from it considerable spiritual benefit, thereby making of what was originally a sign of mortality into an instrument of salvation.
+ Glory to God for All Things +
Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet is one of the most notable living philosophers and authors on Orthodox Christian Patristics.
He holds a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Nancy and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Strasbourg. A teacher of philosophy for nearly thirty-five years, he is an author of over thirty books and countless articles whose work has been translated into seventeen languages. His magnum opus, Therapy of Spiritual Illness, and several other works have been translated into English to wide acclaim.