What Did I Do To Deserve This?

"You must have done something awful for this to happen to you." Has anyone ever said that to you? Have you said it to yourself?

Job had been through a lot. He'd lost his children, his home, his possessions, and his health. All he had left was his wife, and that was not necessarily a good thing. She wasn't much help to him during his troubles.

Job needed some encouragement. He needed to know somebody cared and sympathized with him. He needed friends.

His friends came to see him, alright. But they didn't provide what he needed. Instead, they told Job that he must have committed some horrible sins and that God was punishing him by sending all these calamities.

Many people think this way. They believe anything bad that happens must be punishment from God. Let's see what God has to say about that.

In Job 1:8, God said there was nobody else on earth like Job. He was "blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil." So why did so much evil befall Job? Because the devil complained to God that the only reason Job was so good was because God had given him so much. Satan thought if everything was taken away from Job, then he would not be loyal to God.

God knew how Job would react, though, and He wanted to show other people and Satan the sort of example Job was going to set. Even when Job's wife suggested that he curse God and die, Job refused to denounce God or blame him.

God often uses people in difficult circumstances to teach others. (John 9:1-3) Jesus deliberately delayed going to see Lazarus when He'd been told his friend was sick. After Lazarus died, Jesus brought him back to life. Do you think that Jesus planned it that way, so that people could see His power? By allowing Lazarus to die, Jesus was able to teach others and to make it clear to them that He was the Son of God (John 11:15, 42).

There are many examples in the Bible of righteous people suffering through no fault of their own. Abel was killed by his evil brother who was jealous. Joseph was put into prison because of a wicked and deceitful woman, not because he'd done anything wrong. John the Baptist was beheaded, though he was a prophet of God. Jesus said there was no other man like John, but he died because of a woman who sought revenge.

Here's what Peter wrote to New Testament Christians about suffering: "You greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Suffering is greater than gold, which doesn't last, because suffering refines our faith and makes it genuine. This results in honor for Jesus.

And, speaking of Jesus. He was innocent, yet he suffered more than anyone. He willingly left heaven to suffer cruelties he didn't deserve and he didn't have to accept. It's hard enough to endure trials when we can't do anything to stop them. Think of how tempting it would be, if you had the power to call angels to help you or if you could strike dead anyone who tried to harm you? Jesus had the power to avoid suffering, yet he gave up His right to do that and instead faced the pain . . . for us.

We may suffer a lot of pain in our lives, BUT when this life is over, we do not need to suffer through eternity. Why? Because of the suffering Jesus took on himself for us. He suffered because He didn't want us to suffer. Does that sound like a God who is waiting for an opportunity to punish us when we do wrong? Jesus came to this world to seek and save. He was led, like a lamb to the slaughter, and it was because He wanted to spare us from eternal suffering.

So the next time trouble comes into your life, please don't blame God for it. He's not sitting on His throne looking for a reason to zap you. He made the supreme sacrifice in order to SPARE us from suffering the punishment we deserved for our sins.

Will you allow your pain to turn you away from the one who wants to rescue you from it? That's what Satan would like to see. May we, like Job and Peter, allow our suffering to refine our faith and result in God's praise, glory, and honor.

Author Marsha Jordan is founder of a nonprofit charity called Hugs and Hope for Sick Children (http://www.hugsandhope.org). More of her articles on depression are in her book, Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter, a compilation of encouraging essays illustrated with drawings by critically ill children. Proceeds from book sales will benefit kids battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Other essays in the book include, "More Than I Can Handle," "Ten Tips For Beating Depression," and "Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?" Order the book or learn more at http://www.hugsandhope.org/book.htm

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