Acts 17:11 Archives

Deserved vs. Undeserved Suffering

In response to a man suffering because of his own reckless sin, who kept saying: "I feel like Job", by Dean VanDruff.

You are not like Job, you are more like David. Job suffered for his righteousness, and your suffering is due to your own sin--like David. David lost his son by Bathsheba, but prayed earnestly and in faith till the very last moment. He did not complain, he prayed and wept and fasted and begged God to change His mind. David was forgiven by God, but still lost his son. God is much more interested in your long term spiritual life than in alleviating the pain of the mess you have made in your marriage. If you are "put right" and by grace receive a "right spirit", then things like reconciling a marriage are rather easy for God. God could have easily healed David's son, but God achieved a greater good by teaching David that his sin would find him out. And you must remember, it is not up to David or you, it is up to God. His will is inexorable.

I know this is a difficult time, but you need to see that you are not Job. You are not suffering unjustly.

To suffer unjustly is the eventual destiny of all Christians who truly become like Christ, and so we ought consider it our job description in the future. And if we "complain" of suffering that we richly deserve now, we are rather flunking the entry exam into the Kingdom of Christ. Instead, we ought to give glory to God for the measured judgment that he has given us that we deserve, and see it as training for the pain to come that we will not deserve. For if we want "out" of the deserved suffering we now have, what chance will we have of being really like Christ in the future? If we reject chastisement that is "fit", will we embrace suffering that is not? Think about it.

Stop failing by wanting to throw-off this practice cross, for if you keep doing so there is little chance you will "take up" a cross in the future that you don't deserve. Rather, "set your face like flint" to the glorious adventure of faith God has set before you, and aim to please Him and endure to the end... like Jesus did.

1 Peter 2:19-23 (NIV) For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

If we aim to be "like him", then we need to accept the suffering "for doing wrong" with patience and without our knees buckling. Bear up, brother, and realize where you are. You are not suffering "unjustly", you are suffering under discipline. If you reject this suffering, then you will be "unfit" for the Kingdom to come, where suffering has no relation to what we deserve.

1 Pet 2:21 (TCN) For it was to this that you were called! For Christ, too, suffered--on your behalf--and left you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

I know this is a hard message, but I am trying to make your path straight and strengthen what is feeble in you. Consider the future, and to what God has called you to. You must not "wimp-out" now if you hope to be like Job or Jesus or Stephen in the future.

Heb 12:7-8 (Wey) The sufferings that you are enduring are for your discipline. God is dealing with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? And if you are left without discipline, of which every true son has had a share, that shows that you are bastards, and not true sons.

Heb 12:11-13 (NAS) All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Get it? You are at a crossroads. Will you obey and bear up under "just punishment"?

Imagine your own son not just weeping after a spanking, but throwing a tantrum and banging his head against the wall and recoiling into a corner, glowering, etc.: As if he had been wronged! As if he deserved better! This would not be a good sign that such a son will ever be able to grow up and deal with undeserved pain and problems of life... if he recoils at loving and fair punishment now. Rather such a boy should cry if he needs to (no shame in that) but also eventually raise his hands to his father and stand up and embrace the father... even if his hiney is sore. Else, the hindquarters will just get more blows rather than to get healed of the spanking.

I do hope you see the point. My stridency here is that we have spoken of this many, many times, and this time I do not want you to miss it. Else we go 'round and 'round and get nowhere.

We have a destiny, and it goes way beyond suffering for what we deserve.

1 Peter 2:20 (Wey) If you do wrong and receive a blow for it, what credit is there in your bearing it patiently?

Well, there is at least the credit of not being a surly, wimpy little boy <smiles> if we bear up under it. Further, there is the "credit" of being "trained by" such chastisement now so that we can grow into undeserved suffering later. For this is our calling and destiny, and we should not shrink back from it.

For example, Hudson Taylor lost his wife not because of sin but because he followed God to China, where she caught a horrible disease and died, as did one of his children. Do you think he did not feel vivid, excruciating pain and sorrow about this? Yet did he buckle under? No. He persevered and trusted God, and did great exploits for the Kingdom of God in the present harvest of souls that we now see in China. This is the kind of suffering God thinks is really glorious--for this is the kind His own Son endured. To get there, we must learn to suffer when we deserve it first.

For if we endure what we deserve, things will not get better (from a carnal perspective) but we will "graduate" to something much more difficult: suffering as a reward for doing good. But we have the promise that as we grow in this grace we will become proportionately like Stephen, who received a Spirit of glory as rocks (unjustly) crushed his skull after preaching a Spirit-infused sermon. The glory given to Stephen may be well beyond our calling, but we should consider that to the extent we are blessed with unjust suffering, to that extent our faces will glow with the very glory of Christ. To get there, we have to get over the "sulks" of being a glowering-little-boy who is buckled over in the corner for a spanking he richly deserved.

1 Peter 4:14-19 (NIV) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome before those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

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