His full name was Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius. Some historians have called him “the Last Roman”. He was from an ancient Roman senatorial family. Boethius was a Christian, and a government worker in the service of Theodoric, the Gothic king in charge of Rome. (Rome had fallen in 476, just a year before Boethius was born.) Yet many of the same government entities continued to function, just under the direction of Goths, not Romans.
Boethius was in his mid-40s, happily married, and had two sons. Then he was set up by enemies and falsely accused of treason. The Roman was cast into prison and awaited his fate.
Does God always bail out Christians who are faithful? Why does God let unjust things like this happen? These questions haunted Boethius, and instead of screaming, crying, or protesting, he became productive and wrote a classic that became the single most popular book in the western world for the next 1000 years. It is called “The Consolation of Philosophy.” In this book he deals with the issue of why things don’t turn out the way we plan. He wrestles with why unjust and cruel and unfair things happen to people who are faithful to God. To get his full answer, get the book (it’s out there) and read it.
The end of the story is that after a year in prison, the executioners came and killed Boethius. Some say they bashed his brains in; others say he was decapitated or hanged. In any case, an innocent Christian was unjustly killed by a barbaric king.
That was the end of his life, but not the end of his words to us today. Here is just a sampling from a man who refused to cave in to the darkness and depression of his days:
“For truly I believe that Ill Fortune is more use to men than Good Fortune. For Good Fortune, when she wears the guise of happiness, and most seems to caress, is always lying; Ill Fortune is always truthful, since in changing, she shows her inconstancy. The one deceives, the other teaches; the one enchains the minds of those who enjoy her favour by the semblance of delusive good, the other delivers them by knowledge of the frail nature of happiness. Accordingly, thou mayest see the one fickle, , shifting as the breeze, and ever self-deceived; the other sober-minded, alert, and wary, by reason of the very discipline of adversity. Finally, Good Fortune, by her allurements, draws men far from true good; Ill fortune ofttimes draws men back to true good with grappling irons.”
The Last Roman, before his execution, told us to trust God, and embrace the adversity that comes our way, because only in the stress and struggle and pain of this world can we really see clearly what is really important, and what is simply passing away.