when tragedy strikes
the suffering of fools
temptations, tests, and trials
why does God test man, part one
testing and the education of life
what my cat taught me about testing, and trusting
why does God test man, part two
we are the clay
It is also human nature to assume that the answer to that question is always, “This suffering is deserved.”
While fools and sinners bring suffering on their own heads, God takes pains throughout Scripture to teach us that this is not always the right answer for the question of Why suffering? in every instance. Two examples will suffice, one from the Old Testament and one from the New.
Job’s answer for his suffering was that he was righteous, and had done no wrong, but that he was suffering without deserving punishment. His friends’ answer for his suffering was that he surely was being punished for sins, hidden though they may be.
God’s answer to their answers:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Job 38:1-2
In other words, they were all wrong. We know why Job endured suffering; God reveals the reason in the first two chapters of Job. He was being tested. But God, in His answer to Job from chapter 38 to the end of the book, never tells that reason to Job. God’s answer to Job was, I am greater than you, and with that be content. And Job’s answer to God was, I retract all the stupid stuff I said earlier, and shut my mouth from now on. That was a wise answer!
The same question of Why suffering? was asked of Jesus:
There were some present at that very time who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luk 13:1-5
Jesus answered that the reason these things happened to them was not that they were worse sinners than everyone else. Notice that Jesus also does not answer the question of Why, just as God did not to Job.
When we go through suffering, we want to know why. But we cannot always know the reason unless God reveals it, so let us be careful to walk in humility with God and with our hurting brothers and sisters.
when we suffer: a warning
help when we hurt
flip the switch
the poetry of drawing near
hearts wounded by suffering
what my thimble taught me
pride: the hidden problem with hardness
portrait of a yielded heart
the poetry of a yielded heart
comfort when we suffer
taking comfort: psalm 42
the poetry of taking comfort
comfort, comfort, o my people
comfort as a mother comforts
a rabbit trail
the joy of intimacy
the poetry of intimacy
God’s comforting presence
why don’t I feel God?
christians and suffering
back from the abyss