There is one thing we must understand clearly: once we are creatures of Good Lord, once we are guarded by Him, the One Who arranges for us both the small and the big things, it means that we cannot suffer anything without God’s permission and that no one of our pains is meant to harm us or something like that; consequently we should not imagine a better situation for us.
Death comes from God; but death is not a bad thing, only if you are talking about sinner’s death, because for sinner the liberation from the pains of this world means the beginning of hell’s tortures, which author is not God, but we ourselves, the beginning and the roots of the sin are into us and into the liberty of our will.
We may not have any pain if we estrange from vices; but because, through pleasure, we let ourselves tempted by the sin, what kind of reason could we evoke to prove that we are not the authors of our sufferings?
Evil can be of two types: related to us and evil itself.
Evil itself depends on us, for example: injustice, debauchery, madness, fear, envy, killing, poisoning, cunning and all the sins related to them, that defile the soul made by our Creator and darkens its beauty.
Evil related to us causes pains and sufferings to our senses, for example: the illness of the body, body’s wounds and the lack of necessary things for living, life without glory, the loss of money and the loss of our dear persons. Each of these bad things is brought to us by the wise and good Lord for our use.
The richness is taken from those who had used it wrong, to destroy the tool with which they made the injustice; illness is sent to those that is better to have bound their organs than to have them free, to estrange us from sins; brings death when the life is off, that is fixed by God’s right judgement from the beginning of each one; because God sees from distance what is useful for each of us.
Famine, drought, floods are common calamities which strike cities and nations to punish them when their evil overtakes all the limits. As the doctor is a well-doer even if he causes pains and suffering to the body (because he fights against illness, not the patient) so God is good when through punishments given to someone, He takes care of the salvation of everyone. You don’t accuse the doctor when he cuts some of your organs, burns other of them and draws out others from the body, but you give him money and you call him your saviour, because he stopped the sickness in a small part of the body, before it would be extended to your entire body. But when you see that the buildings crushes on its citizens because of an earthquake or that a ship is sinking in the sea with all the travellers, you don’t linger to open your mouth for a blasphemy against the true Doctor and Saviour.
And, nevertheless, you must understand that a careful treatment is needed when people’s illnesses are small and can be easily healed, but when their illnesses become impossible to be healed by a common treatment, then is necessary to estrange the disease from others not to infect them. Therefore, as well as the doctor is not guilty if he cuts or burns a part of your body, but the sickness, so the destructions of the cities have their origins in people’s sins, that overstepped the bounds. Therefore, don’t blaspheme God!
(Saint Basil the Great, Homily IX)