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The suffering of the righteous: Meditation for the eighteenth Sunday after trinity

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Meditation. Photo: PIXABAY

The question of how a good God can allow the righteous to suffer has puzzled saints and pleased sceptics over the centuries. Many Christians, today, seem to think that faith in God comes with a guarantee of freedom from adversity.

In fact, too many of our evangelistic appeals are tainted with the false promise (implied or stated) that coming to faith in Christ will deliver men from their trials in life. When young Christians come to the realisation that this is not so, their faith is sometimes severely shaken.

The question: “How can a good God allow the righteous to suffer?” assumes that suffering is always evil and therefore irreconcilable with God’s goodness. But this is not really the case. Suffering can also serve some good purposes. It neither contradicts God’s goodness nor is it out of place in God’s programme. Suffering and hardships can be important aspects of the spiritual formation of the Christian. They play some roles in making Christians what God wants them to be.

Suffering is not a virtue and not to be courted. But if it comes to a Christian unsolicited, he should accept it as Divine providence and remain faithful. All things work for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). Many times, when you look back at what you considered suffering at the time it occurred, you will have much cause to thank God. The righteous suffer because God’s ways are mysterious. Human beings cannot understand all of God’s ways.

Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day – Job 23:1-12; 2Cor. 1:1-22 (Mattins)

The OT passage is Job’s response to the speech of one of the friends, Eliphaz. Eliphaz was sure that Job was not upright as it appeared, and sought to bring him to repentance as a way out of his suffering. But Job had served God with a good conscience and was sure he was not guilty of any of the allegations/assumptions made by Eliphaz. Job could not help laying bare his heart and expressed a passionate longing to find God, Who would deal intelligibly with him, meting out justice to his cause and not numbing him with a parade of sheer power. The Bible attested to the righteousness of Job in its introduction of Job: “In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (1:1). The righteous also suffers.

In the NT passage, Paul described God as “…the Father of compassion and the God of all comforts, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (verses 3-4). He went further to state that, “the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ, our comfort overflows” (vs 5). Then he kept the Corinthians informed of the hardships they suffered in the Province of Asia, with the intent that the Corinthian Christians would share in their sufferings, as well as their comfort. All these clearly show that far from being abnormal, suffering is an essential part of Christianity. It links us to Christ, brings us to experience God’s comfort and prepares us to minister comfort to others. God works through our suffering to glorify Himself and bring us to higher appreciation of His love and care for us.

The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

princewillireoba@gmail.com, trinityfoundationibrucentre@gmail.com


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