By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
Two lessons ago, we established that pain and suffering can ultimately be traced back to sin, specifically the original sin in the Garden of Eden. It is easy, then, to assume all pain and suffering comes from specific sin in a person’s life. This is the driving force behind the questions, “Why am I suffering? What have I done to deserve this?”
The Bible is filled with numerous examples of persons who endured suffering without a specific cause or result of sin. Sometimes suffering has a direct cause in sin; however it is wrong to assume that a person’s suffering is the result of something sinful he has done. The poster child for this is a man named Job. An entire book of the Bible is written to establish that not all suffering is a direct result of sin.
Job 1-2 set the stage. Job is a just and upright man who fears and worships God. In fact, God brags on Job in Job 1:8 and 2:3, saying there is none like him on all the earth. Satan raises a serious charge against Job and suggests Job serves God and is faithful only because God blesses Job. The accuser then challenges God to remove Job’s blessings, even his health, and put his faith to the test.
Many Christians stumble at this point. Once pain, suffering, and/or grief come to them, they are quick to question God, doubt God, and even curse God. Not Job. He remains faithful and trusts God (Job 13:15). He doesn’t understand and proclaims his innocence, yet he trusts the hand of God on his life.
Job has three friends who come and visit him in his affliction. They sit with him for seven days without saying a word (Job 2:11-13). If they would have gone home after the seven days, they would have been better off and Job would have been as well. Instead, they begin to tell Job that his suffering is a result of his sin and if he would repent and ask forgiveness, God would restore him (Job 11:13-16).
Job defends his innocence before God. Job 23:8-12 is an example of his response. He has sought God. He has looked for Him to gain an understanding for the test he is enduring. He maintains his faithfulness to following God’s ways The main point of the book of Job is to teach us not to assume suffering is the direct result of sin. It may be a test of our faith in God.
Jesus was asked about a man born blind in John 9:1-3. Was his blindness due to the man’s sin before birth or perhaps his parents’ sin? Jesus emphatically replies, “Neither!” The man’s blindness was not a result of a specific sin but that “the works of God may be revealed in Him.”
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus speaks of two instances where people were killed. In both, Jesus teaches that they were not punished because they were worse sinners than others. He then uses this teaching to remind the disciples that every person will eventually perish unless they repent.
One final example would be Joseph (Genesis 39-50) who was sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned for years. Again, this suffering was not a direct result of his sins but to place Joseph exactly where he needed to be for God to use him in saving his family.
You may be going through a time of pain and suffering. Do not assume it is a direct result of a specific sin. Allow God to use that pain and suffering to test you, to teach you, and to use you for His glory.