Suffering is not Punishment
Written by, Pastor Nomer Velasco
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Why does God answer ‘yes’ to some prayers and ‘no’ to others?
Why does God miraculously heal some people and not others?
Why does disaster strike one city and not another?
Bad theology surrounding these questions can be very detrimental. Bad theology hurts the suffering.
We know that God answers prayer. And we need to pray. God tells us to ask, and it will be given
(Matt. 7:7). But what are we as believers to infer from suffering, particularly in the current COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying natural disasters, where people’s prayers seemingly go unanswered? Can we simply draw straight lines between our requests and God’s answers?
Years ago, I heard a pastor tell of his cancer that went into remission. When he told his congregation the good news, several commented, “We knew God would heal you. He had to. So many people were praying for you.” While the pastor was thankful for the prayers, he also knew God did not owe him healing. Faithful believers throughout the ages have earnestly prayed and have not been healed. The apostle Paul was not healed so God's power could be made perfect in his weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
We can grow discouraged that others have been rescued while we still suffer, because of bad theology. Prosperity gospel proponents have told us that if we have prayed in faith, our body would have been healed, our loved ones would have been spared or our marriage would have been restored. It was all up to us. If we just had the faith, we would have had a better outcome. These words can leave people bruised and disillusioned, wondering what they are doing wrong.
But that is not the gospel. God’s response to our prayers is not dependent on our worthiness, rather it is based on his great mercy (Dan. 9:18). Because of Christ, who took our punishment, God is always for us (Rom. 8:31) and He wants to give us all things., with Christ himself ever interceding for us (Rom. 8:31–34).
If we are in Christ, God is completely for us. Your suffering is not a punishment. Your struggles are not because you didn’t pray enough or the right way. We know though that God will use suffering in ways we may not always understand. But one day we will see and understand how God uses affliction to prepare us for an incomparable weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).
This is the glorious gospel rather than bad theology and it holds for all who love Christ.
Dear God, we declare and acknowledge your sovereignty over all your creation.
Thank you for your great love, abundant grace and enduring mercy. Amen
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17