Suffering has a unique way of causing us to ask tough questions. Sustained suffering has an even greater way of leading Christians to ask hard questions.
- “Why is this happening to me now?”
- “What did I do wrong?”
- “What sin have I unwittingly committed to cause God to so strike me with this kind of suffering?”
Weak Theology Asks the Wrong Questions:
A weak theology will quickly run to find evidence of sin that causes the suffering. Certainly God can and does use suffering as a means of corrective mercy in his children. We know God disciplines those whom he loves. Even the discipline of a perfect Heavenly Father is often painful and unpleasant (Hebrews 12:3-11).
Jesus disciples were prone to run towards accusation when they saw a man who had been born blind (John 9:1-3ff). They asked who was responsible for the sin that caused this man’s affliction – the man or his parents? Jesus’ answer denied both options. We learn the reason for this man’s blindness was so “that the works of God might displayed in him.”
Job’s friends eventually became his greatest accusers as they sought eagerly to find cause for his extraordinary suffering. As the book unfolds the dialogue between Job and his friends get’s more intense as accusations are conjured up and hurled at Job.
Peter writes to suffering Christians in his first letter. Suffering is a major theme in the letter arriving as soon as the sixth verse (1 Peter 1:6-7). Yet before Peter begins providing instruction to his readers about Christian suffering he provides them some theologically robust terms to lay the groundwork for the instruction and encouragement he would later write.
Displaying God’s Mighty Works
Peter describes his readers as “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1). They are chosen strangers. Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). Their Christianity was paradoxically the very cause for their suffering. Their suffering was not an expression of God’s displeasure with them. It was an evidence of God counting them worthy of their gospel calling. God’s gracious choice of them for salvation was also God’s choice that they would suffer as Christians in a hostile Greco-Roman society.
Christian, as you suffer for your faith in this sin broken world find encouragement from Peter’s words written to your Christian counterparts who lived around AD 60. Trust in God’s gracious choice of you for salvation. He makes no mistakes. He is able to display his mighty works through your suffering to a world that needs rescuing grace.