Why do the righteous suffer part 1

Olu JegedeDevotional

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“W
hy do the righteous suffer” is a question so often asked by people when they suffer. When we use the term righteous here, I am referring to those who are made right in God’s eyes through Christ (and not just on their own merit). Thus the righteous are those who have accepted the shed blood of Jesus as their sacrifice for sin, have repented of their own way of life, and trusted in God’s love and mercy to live out their new life while on this earth.

So when the righteous suffer, they often ask “Why God”. Since God says he loves the righteous, it can be quite a confusing thing for someone who is going through severe difficulty to understand. Thus, “why do the righteous suffer” is the prevailing question in the book of Job. Job was described as a righteous man, but yet he had been overcome by a series of tragedy that left him desolate. Not only does Job question the reason for his woes, his friends and family do as well, all asking the same question “why do the righteous suffer”?

In this first article we will deal with the reason given by Job’s friends, which is often quite common in the church. They believed Job’s suffering was due to some sin that Job had committed. To them this was the only explanation for such sheer trials that had befallen their friend at a very rapid pace. This reason for suffering was not only exclusive to the book of Job, it can be found in other places in the Bible, including the gospels at the time of Christ.

In John 9, the disciples and Christ had happened upon a blind man who was in need of help. Immediately the disciples asked Jesus “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” In their world view, suffering was due to sin. So this man who was blind from birth must have some sort of sordid past. Either the parents were sinners and thus he had been born blind, or he was a sinner and he hadn’t been cured of his blindness by God as a punishment for his sinful ways. Thus like Job’s friends, we find the disciples had placed a judgement on this man in order to satisfy their own perspective on suffering.

Let me ask you a question. Do you find yourself doing the same thing? Placing judgement on the poor for being the way they are. Or maybe on an unwed mother who finds herself pregnant. Or even on a friend in crisis, to name a few examples. I think in some sense or another, we may all find ourselves succumbing to this. But the amazing thing is we don’t only do this to others, we do this to ourselves also. Think about it. When you go through a trial, how often does the thought of what sin you may have committed come to mind? And do you find yourself making a mental checklist of righteous or unrighteous deeds over the recent past, in order to justify or condemn yourself?

Granted, the Bible shows clearly that wickedness leads to wrath. We have examples such as the blindness of Elymas the magician or the destruction of the world at the time of Noah through the deluge, both due to sin that had been committed.

But despite Gods requirement for justice, we find that he has mercy on the righteous, and covers their sins. Particularly in the new covenant (with the sacrificial blood of Christ) there is not a one to one relationship between sin and suffering. Instead overwhelming grace and mercy is what he bestows on all people, even the wicked, but particularly the righteous.

1 John 2

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Christ atones (makes up for) our sin, so we no longer need to fear retribution or judgment. Once we repent of our sins, we can be assured that his love will cover our faults and shortcoming.

Are you going through a hard time today? Don’t presume to know why it is happening to you, and don’t assume its due to something you have or haven’t done. Seek God in your situation, and trust he will reveal his will to you in his time.

– Pastor Olu Jegede