by John Funk

I am certain that most of you have never raised this question with God.  You have probably gone through life accepting its trials and tribulations and gaining strength with each and every victory you encountered along the way.  No matter what life threw at you, you were willing to accept it as a humble servant understanding that the path of a Christian is strewn with pain and difficulty.  You have probably never cried out in the night to your Lord in anguish or despair because you had always expected that life could be unfair.  And now, after dealing with those trials, you stand victorious in the sight of God.  Yep, you are probably a much better Christian than I could ever hope to be. 

 Okay, now that you have had a good laugh, let’s get serious.  How may times during your life have you asked this question?  Most people I know view themselves as good, solid citizens who put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  They are the kind of people who are kind, generous and giving, particularly when it comes to their neighbors or people in need.  They do not hesitate to pitch in when help is needed and they open their homes (and their pocketbooks) for strangers when trouble comes.  Whether it is a tornado in Alabama or a hurricane in Louisiana, they are more than happy to help out.  How is it that I know these people?  It’s easy – I read about them everyday in the newspaper.  They are my fellow Americans. 

However, there is another common trait amongst them.  Many of them will ask a question when trouble comes their way and that question is “Why me, Lord?”  They will look around them and undoubtedly they will take note of others who seem to have no problems.  How is it that there are always people around us who never seem to suffer but don’t always try to do the right things?  Where is the fairness in this?  Why is it that God allows the less deserving to skate by, if you will, while those who try to live a “good” life usually end up having trouble?

I would love to be able to tell you that I am not one of those who question God when things go wrong in my life.  I would love to be able to tell you that I am one of those “super Christians” who never doubts God and who always knows that I am in right standing with my Lord.  I would love to be able to tell you that I am so immersed in God’s plan for my life that I simply don’t need God’s discipline because I never stray.  However, that would be beyond wrong – it would be a lie. 

The fact of the matter is that I struggle in my Christian walk.  I not only question God, there are times when I doubt Him and His plan for my life.  I am no “super Christian”; instead, I am closer to being a “doubting Thomas” or a “denying Peter.”  It seems that I am so inundated with the struggles and trials of life that I have a hard time keeping my focus on where it should be – the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  If anything gives me comfort, it is knowing that many heroes of the Bible apparently felt just like I do each and every day of my life.

My life is not dissimilar to the lives of most people.  I have struggled with various trials most of my life just like most.  I experience pain, sometimes more than most, sometimes less than some.  Temptation claws at my self-control and my temper gets me into trouble.  I do not merit the sacrifice of the God of heaven.  And yet, I still have the audacity to ask, “Why me, God”?” when the going gets tough.

I look at my life and say (mostly to myself), “Aren’t I doing everything I should do for God?”  I teach, I pray, I read my Bible, I tithe, I give to the poor, I treat my fellow man with respect and dignity, I do not take advantage of anyone, I am fair in my business dealings, I am not a slacker, I readily serve when asked, I don’t complain, I even write for Christian websites in an attempt to minister to my fellow believers or to testify to the wondrous works of my Savior.  That being the case, then “Why me, Lord?” 

All of my life I have dealt with pain and life-threatening conditions.  I experienced what it was like to be left out or different because of a physical condition that robbed me of a normal life.  Later in life, I, once again, felt what it was like to struggle each day with a crippling physical condition and the aftermath of surgery gone bad.  Why me, Lord?

Suffering is part of the human condition.  It is a concept as old as man and will be with us until Christ ushers in His reign.  It all began with the anguish that came with the fall of man in Genesis 3.  When the serpent deceived Eve and she in turn influenced her husband, Adam, to eat of the forbidden fruit, suffering entered the world.  Until that time, life was truly a paradise in the Garden of Eden.  The end result was pain in childbirth for the woman and a never-ending struggle to survive.  Even after that terrible consequence, man still did not learn.  Cain killed Abel and was banished to live away from his people.

Ever since the dawn of time, it seems that man’s existence has been largely built upon suffering.  Job suffered.  Abraham suffered.  Joseph suffered.  God’s chosen people, the Israelites suffered for 400 years under Egyptian rule.  The Egyptians suffered while Ramses debated the release of the Israelites with Moses.  After the Exodus, the Israelites suffered as they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness due to their unbelief.  Even David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered.  The Old Testament is filled with accounts of suffering, both man-made and God-made.

Probably the most amazing account of suffering in the Bible is that of the life of Jesus Christ.  The Son of God, One Who sat at the right hand of the Father, lived a life of suffering – a life that culminated with a horrible, undeserving death on a cross after having been proclaimed the Messiah just days before.  A life lived in perfection solely for the glory of God ended up tragically ending because of the fear and loathing of the religious elite of His day.

 However, the book of the Bible that stands for the proposition of suffering is the Book of Job. It is the book that people turn to when faced with the trials and tribulations of life.  That being the case, one must ask why Job suffered as he did.  Ultimately, the reason that Job suffered it because he was a good and righteous man. 

Job 1:8-12

** New International Version

King James Version
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.   8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 

 After he had departed from God’s presence, Satan brought terrible calamity upon Job.  He took his flocks and killed his children and yet, through it all, Job did not sin. 

 Job was a good man, he was a righteous man before the Lord and yet, he suffered.  There was no discernible reason as to why he suffered.  His friends seemed to believe that Job had committed sin before God but he had not.  Even his wife told him to curse God and die but he refused.  There was great suffering in his life and he apparently did nothing to bring it upon himself.  So how unfair was this?  However, through it all, Job remained faithful.

Job 1:22

** New International Version

King James Version
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.   22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.  

 There was another instance in the life of Christ which was an illustration of suffering.  This account dealt with the blind man and his healing.  It was commonly believed during these times that people suffered because they had some sin in their lives.  For the blind man in the 9th Chapter of John had not brought this upon himself nor had the man’s parents brought this upon him.  There was another reason behind the affliction. 

John 9:1-8

** International Standard Version

King James Version
As he was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that£ the works of God might be revealed in him. 4I£ must work the works of the one who sent me£ while it is day. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the orld.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he spread the mud on the man’s eyes 7and told him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “Sent One”). So he went off and washed and came back seeing.. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.  

 It was for the glory of God.  It was suffering so that others might see God made manifest in their lives.  Why?  It was so that others might be drawn to faith in God through belief in Jesus as the Messiah. 

Does this seem unfair to you?  Is it unfair that a man should suffer all of his life just so that suffering could be a witness to others?  That depends on your perspective.  If you think that you have the mind of God, you might believe that this is unfair.  However, if you understand that it is not about you and that you are not God, then it is perfectly fair.  Oft times we think that we can judge what is good or bad according to our own belief system and yet, our personal belief systems have nothing to do with God’s perspective.  God is God and we are not.  If you think you are, get over it.  You’re not and you never will be.  Suffering has many purposes in life and one of those purposes can be a witnessing tool for the sake of Christ.  Instead of asking yourself, “Why me?”, you should be thankful that God thinks that you are big enough to carry the burden and to possibly help someone else come to Christ.  Easy?  No, but if it was everyone could do it. 

We have a saying out where I live and that saying is “Cowboy Up.”  The meaning is to step up and deal with it.  Sometimes the only way we can deal with it is through the strength of Christ but it is when “I am weak, then I am strong (in the strength of Christ).”  That is when we grow because

Romans 5:3-5

** International Standard Version

King James Version
. . . we also boast£ in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. . . . we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 

 Suffering leading to endurance which produces character which produces hope.  And it is out of that hope that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Faith, hope and love but the great of these is love.  All because of suffering in our lives.  Is it worth it?  I think so.

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