Is suffering the result of sin?
For reading & meditation: Luke 13
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” (v.2)
Yesterday we ended by making the point that it is only when we realistically acknowledge a problem that we can take the steps to deal with it. The teaching that says you should not admit to having a problem as the negative thought that comes from such an admission will interfere with your ability to deal with it is psychologically and spiritually unsound. The passage we read yesterday showed how Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, dealt with the problem of His impending death on the cross: He first faced it in His feelings, and then went out to face the fact. “Rise, let us go!” The second thing we must do to deal with suffering is to recognise that not all suffering is due to personal sin. Some suffering is, of course, but not all. The person who violates God’s moral laws must not be surprised when these laws kick back. The fact that not all suffering is due to personal sin can be seen from the account in John 9, where Jesus pointed out that personal or parental sin is not always at the back of physical calamities such as congenital blindness. The point is made even more clearly in the passage before us today, where Jesus points out that calamities can stem from man’s inhumanity to man (Pilate’s butchering of Galilean Jews) or natural accidents or disasters (the collapse of the tower in Siloam), and therefore the people who suffer from them are not especially sinful. This takes away the self-righteous attitude of those who, being free from calamities themselves, view the problems of others as being the direct punishment of God upon their sin.
Father, I’m relieved to know that suffering is not always the result of personal sin. I’m willing to take my share of the blame for the problems I face, but help me not to become plagued with false guilt. Keep me balanced. Amen.
For further study:
1. What does Scripture say about Job?
2. What did his friends say?