Suffering For the Sake Righteousness

Suffering is commonly understood as the consequence of our own sin or the sin of others, which God allows it for the perfecting of our faith. When David sinned, he felt the heavy hand of God in physical and mental suffering (Psalm 32:3-5). Job’s three friends believed (falsely) that he was suffering because he had done something wrong. But God allowed Job to suffer at the hands of Satan, because he was a righteous man (Job 1:8).

Christians have always struggled with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” That question cannot be fully explained without taking into account the evil influences of Satan and his demons who are actively opposing the will of God. If God and humanity are the only two players, then one or the other will inevitably have to take the blame for all the suffering in this world. That was the conclusion of Job’s wife who responded to his suffering by saying: “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9)!

The book of Job begins by Satan asking God, “Does Job fear God for nothing” (Job 1:9)? In other words, “Do the covenant children of God love the Lord because of who He is, or do they love God because of His blessings?” God answered by allowing Job to suffer at the hands of Satan. Job’s three friends were wrong when they kept insisting that Job was suffering because he did something wrong. Job made the error of defending himself. Job’s defense of himself came to an end when God asked, “Who are you to question Me Job, if I am God I have the right to do with your life whatever I want.” Job agreed and “the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job. 42:10).

Two valuable lessons are learned from Job. First, we have the assurance that God will deliver us and speak to us in our suffering (Job 36:15). Second, we have the assurance that God will make it right in the end. Identifying with Christ in this fallen world will include some suffering for the sake of righteousness. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). As children of God we share in His inheritance and His sufferings (See Romans 8:17). “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort flows” (2 Corinthians 1:5).

Peter advised us not to be surprised by the painful trials of suffering, but rather rejoice that we are participating in the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 4:12,13). Don’t assume that others are suffering because they have done something wrong. They may be suffering because they are doing something right. “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (2 Peter 4:19).

Dr. Neil

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