A short encouragement to think in a uniquely Christian way about sickness and suffering. Because sickness affects everyone personally at some time. J.C. Ryle offers timeless biblical wisdom about this universal human problem.
None of us likes to be sick. But as J. C. Ryle points out, sickness, like the sin that caused it, is universal to all mankind. And while sickness is indeed a misery, Ryle shows that, at the same time, it confers general benefits on mankind.
He writes, “It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. It is a rough schoolmaster, I grant. But it is a real friend to man’s soul.” He goes on to describe some of the ways that God uses sickness for good and the special duties that its prevalence requires, concluding with some words of practical application. We can do no better than to heed Ryle’s final exhortation, “In sickness and in health, in life and in death, let us lean confidently on Him.”
About the Author
John Charles (J.C.) Ryle (1816-1900) once admitted that, as a young man, he thought that being a Christian was about the most unpleasant possible thought that could come to his mind. But one day in 1837, he was providentially in a church where he heard the Scripture read out loud: “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8). His life was transformed, and by 1841, the Church of England ordained him a minister of the gospel.
In 1880, at 64 years old, after serving 39 years in the ministry, Ryle became the first Bishop of Liverpool, a post he held for 20 years. He was affectionately known as “the working man’s bishop.” Ryle was firm in his theological convictions, never suffering from what he called a “boneless, nerveless, jellyfish condition of soul.” His successor described him as a “man of granite”, and Charles Spurgeon called Ryle, his contemporary, an “evangelical champion.” Ryle passed into heaven in the year 1900.
Today, more than a hundred years after his death, Ryle’s works remain some of the Christian church’s most cherished treasures.