Do you know how much John Calvin suffered?
It’s probably more than you realize.
If Calvin’s critics knew this about him, perhaps they’d cut him some slack. Indeed, to say that Calvin suffered a lot is a massive understatement.
Here’s a few of his ailments:
- Calvin had multiple childhood weaknesses that he was not able to shake.
- Calvin never recovered from a strict Monastic regime — a regime in which he would go to bed late and wake up very early, often operating on little sleep.
- Calvin’s eyes were destroyed through reading with a candle light.
- Calvin’s wife died less than nine years after they married and he never remarried.
- Calvin and his wife had one miscarriage, and were unable to have kids.
- Calvin’s critics said his wife died of boredom and they named their dogs after him.
- Calvin suffered with chronic asthma, migraine headaches that kept him up at night, pleurisy, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, gallstones, severe arthritis and frequent influenza accompanied with raging fevers.
On top of that, he was constantly harassed by the City Council as they often tried to control his church, and he felt the pressure and demands from a seemingly incessant workload.
After Calvin’s wife died, he said, “May the Lord Jesus Christ support me also under this heavy affliction, which would certainly overcome me, had not he, who raises up the prostrate, strengthens the weak, and refreshes the weary, stretch forth his hand from heaven to me.”
John Calvin was an influential figure, but also an afflicted one. He experienced both success and suffering. The secret of his endurance, it seems, is trust in God’s providence. No wonder he wrote, “Thou, O Lord, thou bruises me, it is enough for me to know it is thy hand.”
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