Recently, I saw a tweet from Diane Langberg which said this:
“You can do right and still have everything turn out wrong. I am not certain where we got the idea** that was not so, given that the One we follow and call God did do everything right and ended up treated with gross injustice.”
**She is addressing the belief that if I am doing the right things, then I should have a blessed life and if I am suffering then I have done something wrong. We want to believe we can control our fate by being good.
This is a powerful statement, which deserves some thought. Her point here is very valid…Christ was always perfect, and He was treated with gross injustice. However, I think there are three main reasons why we want to believe that the blessings in our life indicate we are righteous, and the curses in our life indicate we are in sin.
First, the Bible indicates it. Deuteronomy is called The Book of the Law. It tells us about how God set up the spiritual laws of the universe. It tells us what to do and how to do it. In chapter 28:2 it says, “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” And then it lists for the next twelve verses the many blessings we will received if we obey. Then in 28:15 it says, “If you will not obey the Lord your God, all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” And it goes on for the next twenty-nine verses the many curses we will endure if we live in sin. This is indeed a general principle that is true.
So, it goes to follow that if I am experiencing negative consequences in my life, it is at least worth the question to myself, “is there something I am doing that could be inviting this curse upon me?”
But let’s remember there is more than one chapter in the Bible to base our understanding on.
We Love Justice
The second reason we believe our actions produce a specific result is we love justice. We love justice because this is a character of God. We want to know what the rules are so we can get what we want. If I do the right thing and suffer it’s not fair.. Nobody loves a story where the weak gets assaulted, robbed, and defamed and that’s the end of the story. We forget there is an enemy in this world that brings sickness, strife, and temptation. We forget we have been given choice and we choose things that God would not choose. And while God IS a just God and He will make right every wrong, there is nothing to indicate He treats everyone the same.
We Want To Be In Control
To protect ourselves from the thought that we could be innocently assaulted with a curse, we construe blame on victims and think they must have done something to deserve this. This gives us a feeling of safety and control. The cancer victim must have eaten poorly, or the poor must not know how to work, or the rape victim must have been scantily dressed. Our minds race to find some cause so that we can avoid this fate for our own lives. But the story of Job indicates that even the righteous endure hardship at the hand of Satan.
So, how are we to look at it when we experience deep sorrow and hardship?
Keep our eyes focused on our own stories
First, the story of Job reminds us that we can’t really know what is going on in someone else’s story, we so need to keep our focus on our own stories. Job’s friends were shown to be fools, because they opened their mouths to try and figure out why Job was going through tremendous anguish.
God doesn’t stop trials
In the story of Job, God is the one who points out Job’s righteousness to Satan (Job 1:8, 2:3). God also repaid Job ten times what was taken from him. God does not protect him from experiencing the pain. If the Spirit does not convict us, then we can have a confidence our suffering is a not a result of our actions. We can then also be assured that God will restore blessing to us many times over.
Deut. 23:5 “The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.”
1 Peter 2:19 “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”
Trusting Has Three Elements
#1 Trusting doesn’t mean we are stuck in suffering
It is a kingdom agenda to relieve suffering! We look for cures to cancer, we flee danger, and we comfort the afflicted. If we can do something about our situation, then by all means we move toward relieving the suffering. It is not ‘more holy’ to suffer.
#2 Trusting doesn’t mean we will not suffer
It is a kingdom agenda to grow through suffering. There are many things we can’t change and Scripture speaks to the suffering God’s people will endure. I have often heard people say, “I will trust that God loves me so this bad thing won’t happen.” But that’s ultimately trusting in the outcome not in God. We need to learn to say, “no matter what happens, I trust God loves me and whatever suffering I endure God will bring good from it.”
It is good to ask the question, “am I doing something that would bring this negative consequence into my life?” If the answer is yes, then by all means we need to repent and change our ways. But a valid answer could be, ‘no, to my knowledge I have not brought this on myself.’ Or, another equally valid answer is, “I am suffering this fate because I have done the right thing.”
#3 Trusting through the trial
The thing is, God doesn’t stop hardship or sin in this world; rejection, sin, catastrophes, trials, sickness, and death still happen. He is faithful to us in the middle of those hardships, but not in taking them away. He is faithful to give us His peace, perspective, patience, hope, and joy as we move through them.
He brings good out of the troubles of this world as we trust Him. And if we don’t trust Him through those trials, (we hold onto control, fear, anger, blame, etc.) I’m not sure He does bring good out of those troubles. And personally, if I’m going to go through a trial, I’d rather have good come from it than dung.
What this ultimately means is we can’t judge a heart by the trial. A person could go to jail (a negative consequence) because they have exposed and stood against evil (a righteous deed). A person could have an accident (a negative consequence) because they are serving their neighbor (a righteous deed). Or a person could be sick (a negative consequence) because we are in a spiritual battle (a righteous deed).
So, my hope is to judge myself (only) by doing what I believe God is calling me to do, according to Scripture. If my conscious affirms me and I am yet experiencing a negative consequence or a curse, then I trust God knowing that my suffering will one day become gold.
Diane Langberg’s quote is spot on. The cross our proof.