When we suffer we often find ourselves asking, “Why am I suffering?” Often we are also asking other, silent, unspoken questions. “Is my suffering deserved? It is just? Is it unjust?” Many of us are suffering in various ways during COVID-19, especially if we have lost our jobs or businesses. Our overwhelming response is “This is unfair, I did not cause it as a result of my actions!” Peter addresses unjust suffering in the life of the believer and shows us three ways we can respond:
The Reality of Unjust Suffering
We must acknowledge the reality of our suffering, it is important not to deny it. But this does not mean we lose our dignity or humanity. We are called to bear up under it as transformed believers.
Our Reaction to Unjust Suffering
Follow in Christ’s footsteps as he also suffered unjustly during his life on earth. Jesus committed no sin and yet he suffered. In the Christian faith God shows that he cares and understands our suffering, as he himself has experienced unjust suffering at the hands of men. Jesus was more powerful than those that executed him and yet he did not retaliate or return power for power. He did not give into bitterness, resentment and hate. Instead he pleads with God to forgive them. Hatred always seeks revenge in the face of unjust suffering, but love always produces forgiveness.
Jesus committed no sin and yet he suffered.
But what about justice? Should we just forgive and ignore the need for justice? No! But entrust yourself to God who judges justly and rightly. He is better equipped to administer appropriate justice on our behalf than we are. He will judge us all for our actions, the persecutor and the sufferer. Don’t waste your unjust suffering. Not one of us are just, only Jesus who was sinless. Let your unjust suffering lead you back to God in repentance and trust in Him.
The Result of Unjust Suffering
Unjust suffering can also lead us to a greater consciousness of God and we receive more of God’s grace. The suffering is often allowed so that our need for him can be awakened. And he has promised to give us grace to endure our suffering. He is close to us and walking with us through our trials. He will encourage us, strengthen us, uphold us and help us as we suffer well.
Text: 1 Peter 2:18-25
Preached: 5 April 2020
Location: City Church, Lagos, Nigeria