Questions when suffering: Did I cause this? (Part 1)

When we suffer, all sorts of questions enter our minds. “Why is this happening?” “Does God hate me?” “Is this punishment for some sin I committed?” Let’s turn to the Word of God for some answers.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” It is okay to ask God questions; let’s just ask the right ones.

Here’s the first question: “Did I cause this suffering?” In other words, is this a consequence of my sin?

If the answer is “yes”, then I must accept the consequences of my sinful actions. This attitude is not only required of mature people, but it is biblical as well.

Peter writes in his first letter, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler (1 Peter 4:15). In a similar fashion, Paul stated on trial that he should be punished if he was a criminal. He wasn’t; he had simply testified to the Risen Christ as Lord and Savior of all. In Acts 25:10-11 he said, “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die.”

So if the answer to the question, “Did I cause this suffering” is “yes”, accept the consequences. But if the answer is “no”, understand that this often leads to a “crossroads of faith.” We can get angry at God and turn away from Him, or turn to Him in humility for help.

At this crossroads of suffering, some become angry. This is understandable. Their thinking reflects this attitude: “God should have stopped this.” Or, to use the “Stages of Grieving” that people encounter when faced with suffering, (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) people are in the “anger” stage.

Instead of turning away from God, although understandable, we should turn in humility to Him for help. That leads to question number two.


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