Thascius was anything but a Christian. He was born in AD 200 to a well-placed family of Carthage. He was classically educated, wealthy, a lawyer, an orator, and a pagan. Then everything changed. He decided at the age of forty-five to follow Christ. He changed his name to Cyprian and gave a big portion of his wealth to the poor. He wrote this letter to his good friend Donatus: “This is a cheerful world as I see it from my garden under the shadows of my vines. But if I were to ascend some high mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I should see: brigands on the highways, pirates on the sea, armies fighting, cities burning; in the amphitheaters men murdered to please applauding crowds; selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians — and I am one of them.” Cyprian was baptized, became a church leader, suffered under two persecutions, and was decapitated by the Romans at age fifty-eight. As he was on his way to his death, he said, “Thanks be to God.”
Early Christians learned the secret of being content in every circumstance. Even though many lived under the iron hand of persecution, they held onto their faith and chose to live for Christ. They exhibited the qualities of Jesus, in serving others around them and giving glory to God for His grace and power. Some would say their lives were stressful. But they were marked by an inner peace that was anchored in their rock-solid confidence that Christ would be with them and would see them through into an eternity with Him!
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).