Cyprian of Carthage: Don’t Be Blown Away

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For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

“The fear and faith of God ought to make you prepared for everything, although it should be the loss of private estate, although the constant and cruel harassment of your limbs by agonizing disorders, although the deadly and mournful wrench from wife, from children, from departing dear ones; let not these things be offences to you, but battles: nor let them weaken nor break the Christian’s faith, but rather show forth his strength in the struggle, since all the injury inflicted by present troubles is to be despised in the assurance of future blessings.

Unless the battle has preceded, there cannot be a victory: when there shall have been, in the onset of battle, the victory, then also the crown is given to the victors. For the helmsman is recognised in the tempest; in the warfare the soldier is proved. It is a wanton display when there is no danger. Struggle in adversity is the trial of the truth. The tree which is deeply founded in its root is not moved by the onset of winds, and the ship which is compacted of solid timbers is beaten by the waves and is not shattered; and when the threshing-floor brings out the corn, the strong and robust grains despise the winds, while the empty chaff is carried away by the blast that falls upon it.”

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, writing during the plague in North Africa (c. 251) in Treatise VII, On the Mortality, 12, in Treatises in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Volume 5 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1899) 472.

As we continue reading the words of the bishop in the midst of the plague, we are reminded that “struggle in adversity is the trial of the truth” or in plain terms, it shows our true character and colors.

Let’s not be blown away by this current adversity. On this Saturday, let us pause with gratitude that “the fear and faith of God” makes us ready for anything. We might lose everything or even our lives.

Look around you. Everything you see is temporary. Don’t let your current troubles rob you of the reality and assurance of future blessings. Keep living, giving, serving, and loving generously. This is our moment to shine like lights in a dark world. We’ve got this because God’s got us.

Remember Noah and his family weathered the storm for 40 days. But they did not get out of the ark to begin life anew for a whole year. This COVID-19 tempest may last a similar length and the aftermath may take a year or more to sort out. Only the Father in Heaven knows.

May “the fear and faith of God” not only help us from being blown away like chaff, but may it be our greatest witness to a struggling world.