You are afraid and confused in the spirit that cholera is approaching your area, and you are asking for my advice and encouragement. I tell you that the life and death of each one of us is in the hand of God; without the will of God, no one goes out of this world into eternity. It is also fitting to know that each of us is already destined to die, but we do not know when and how we shall depart.
The body suffers, and so does the soul. The body could be made stronger if the spirit were calm; the confused [discouraged, embarrassed] spirit also has an influence on the body composition and increases the disease.
Bodily sickness serves to heal the soul; we cannot boast that we do not have it. We need to take more care to heal the sores of the soul. The body, though it hurts, is temporary and will rot, while the soul is eternal and immortal!
Enduring sickness with thankfulness is greater than any other redress before God: it cleanses both sins and passions…
Saint Macarius of Optina
If we look at a healthy person and a person who has been suffering for a long time and compare the inner state of one and the other, which of them should be called blissful or wicked: the healthy one or the suffering one?
In your illness, how many times have you repented of your sins before the Lord God and partaken of the Holy Mysteries? From the depths of your soul, how many times have you emitted the heavy sighs, which the Lord sees and hears?
Meanwhile, a healthy person does not have time to think about sins. Healthy people spend every day washing their faces to keep them clean, but not utter a single word about the soul. Healthy ladies or girls will look at themselves in the mirror a hundred times a day, but they will not have time to pray well or to cross as they should. That is why you in your state of pain are more blessed than all the healthy ones around you today.
Saint Anthony of Optina
If you become saddened by a loss and all kinds of displeasure and come to be resentful of God, it’s no wonder that your illness becomes worse and more painful…
It is known to you that where there is temptation, there is the need to be patient, and where there is patience, there is the intercession of grace and mercy.
Saint Leo of Optina
Patience in sickness brings forth both mercy and forgiveness of sins.
All diseases are painful, all the more so when it comes to cancer… You know that this disease mostly arises from an anxious state of mind…
The Holy Climacus calls sickness a way of asceticism, and this kind of asceticism, though involuntary, is the most pleasant. It is most gratifying because there are few people willing to engage in voluntary asceticism, and at the same time it can be accompanied by pride and humiliation of others, whereas there is nothing to be proud of in the involuntary painful asceticism.
Whatever is sent for us to endure, all this is allowed by God’s will to the benefit of our soul, unless we ourselves damage it with our own unwise conduct.
You should know that due to your illness you will give occasion to those who serve you to carry out the commandment of the Lord, I was sick, and you visited Me (cf.: Matthew 25:36). Those who serve the sick with diligence will hear these blessed words at the Last Judgment of Christ, and those who are sick will also benefit from being tried like gold in the furnace of sickness.
Saint Ambrose of Optina
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds