Gather • Devotion #2: When Life is Not Fair
Dr. Randy T. Johnson
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.” Colossians 1:24-25
One of the most common questions among believers and those contemplating whether Christianity is true is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I think the opposite can be difficult too, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Since none of us are actually good (Romans 3:23), we should count our blessings.
There are at least three reasons why struggles come into our life. First, choices have consequences. When we sin, we should expect to be disciplined. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.” Hebrews 12:6 adds, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Discipline is the natural outcome of a poor choice.
Second, difficulties may be allowed to come into our lives to strengthen us or to help us grow in our faith. Hebrews 12:10 says, “For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” God disciplines us “for our good.” It is to help us grow in holiness. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” I must confess that “joy” is not always my first response. However, God gives us tests so we are more prepared for future exams. Breaking down a muscle can make it stronger.
Third, sometimes it is not about us. We might be allowed to suffer for the sake of others. In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel. They did not do anything wrong. However, because of their response in praising the Lord, others came to a saving knowledge. God allowed them to suffer knowing He could count on them to reach others with the Gospel. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we read another aspect of how our suffering can help others, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”God may allow us to go through something so that in the future we can empathize with someone else while pointing them to the Lord. Coming together for Gatherings allows us an opportunity to build each other up. Love is powerful when shared.
If you are presently struggling, do not immediately beat yourself up. Ask God how He can turn your mess into a message, your test into a testimony. Remember Paul’s statement in the opening passage, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.”