Why Suffering?

I . . . am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker?
–Isaiah 51:12-13

Whenever the world is rocked by the news of some terrible tragedy or injustice, many people’s first reaction is to ask why: Why did that have to happen? If there is a God, why would He allow such a thing? I am sure you have had similar questions before. In fact, it was those kinds of questions that caused Solomon to doubt the sovereignty of God. In Ecclesiastes 4, he raised three objections to the sovereignty of God.

Solomon’s first objection was the oppression of the righteous. Look at verse 1: “I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.” It bothered Solomon that the haves were taking advantage of the have-nots. Maybe you have felt that way before. Maybe you are on the side of the have-nots, and you think, “If God is in control of my life, why is He allowing people to oppress me–especially my employer?”

Let me say this: If you are an employer, you have a great deal of power over other people’s lives. You control their salaries, and therefore what they can and cannot do with their families. You control the hours they work. You control what benefits they receive. And one day, God is going to hold you in judgment for how you have treated those He has placed under your charge. In Colossians 4:1, Paul wrote, “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” You have a responsibility to treat the people who work for you fairly if you expect to be treated fairly by God.

Sometimes it is not an employer who oppresses us; sometimes we feel oppressed by our circumstances. Solomon said we need a comforter, somebody to come alongside us as we go through the oppression of life. Of course, our ultimate source of comfort is God Himself. In Isaiah 51, He said, “I . . . am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker? . . . Where is the fury of the oppressor?” (vv. 12-13).

But one reason God comforts us is so we can minister to our fellow Christians who are suffering. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul said the “God of all comfort . . . comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why Suffering?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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