Purpose in our Suffering – Part 1

Usually suffering doesn’t make sense. Specifically we don’t understand why WE have to suffer. Sometimes, however, it does make sense. The other day I was passed on San Jose by a man in a fast, red car weaving and bobbing through the traffic. He was driving entirely too fast in mostly stalled traffic.

At another red light I saw the same car who sped out and continued the same way. Shaking my head at the “maniacs” who drive (faster than me) I went on to my destination. Crossing the Buckman I saw the flashing lights of a State Police car. Pulled over in front of him… you guessed it… the red car! Now I’m not proud of myself, but I wanted to cheer. Justice had been done! The person who needed to be punished was caught.

Sometimes suffering seems OK to us when the bad guy gets what he deserved; when the bully gets punched out; when the criminal is caught. But often it is not that clear. Nothing confuses us like suffering that comes when we don’t have a reason. And nothing hurts like undeserved pain unless the pain is compounded by accusations from others that somehow we must deserve it.

Job’s companions came to him with accusations that compounded his suffering. “Surely,” they taunted, “you must have done something to deserve the pain you now know.” And ironically that old, old story was lived out again at the cross of Jesus. “We considered Him smitten by God and afflicted… but He was wounded for our iniquities….”

Surely, the bystanders reasoned, surely, He was being punished by God. And they were right. Only the punishment was not for His sin…

… but for ours.

“But the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him… and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever been misunderstood as you experienced hardship? Remember that Jesus was too.