Suffering is a part of Christian life

By Steve Greene

A group of men are walking along a dusty road.

A beggar is sitting beside the road. He is a blind man. He has been this way since birth. Most days, no one takes notice of him. The few who do pay attention are moved by pity more than compassion.

From time to time, someone may toss him a few coins. They do it to because they feel sorry for the man. Their gift is often an attempt to appease their own conscience, rather than meet a need. But things are about to change.

A group of men stopped to have a conversation with the blind man. One of them has a question: “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” It seems like an insensitive question to ask, but it was a perfectly natural question.

At that time in history, most people believed all sickness and suffering were the result of sin. They believed the condition was a consequence of what someone had done.

Haven’t we asked the “why” question? This is the question families often ask as they gather at a graveside. It is the question of a young couple when they are told they can’t have children. It’s the question we ask when we are told the condition is terminal or our employment is coming to an end.

We naturally want to know why. Why me? Why now? We just want answers, and it never hurts to ask. So we direct our questions to each other, and when it seems like those answers are insufficient, we turn our attention to God.

We just want to know why. God, why did you allow this to happen? Am I being punished? Have I not been faithful? Haven’t I been striving to serve you with all my heart?

We are no different than those first century disciples who were on their way to Jerusalem that day. Their story is found in John 9. It is like we subtly assume everything will be perfect if we are following God. Surely, God will protect us from all harm if we are doing his will.

Suffering should not be a part of our vocabulary if we are doing the right thing. Some people seem to believe God has somehow let them down if they encounter suffering.

Where did we ever get the idea that suffering is never a part of the Christian life? Jesus told us that in this world, we will have suffering. Next time, we will begin looking at the reason behind our suffering.