In November 4th 2000, my family was shaken by an unexpected event that made me wonder "Why do we suffer?"
On that day, my family and I were going on a trip. We didn't know our plans were going to be interrupted by a car accident. Although we survived, my sister, who was ten at the time, was severely injured and almost lost her life. She was in a coma for Three months. During that time, she had to go through 13 surgeries.
Doctors didn't believe she was going to survive. However, when they pulled the respiratory plug keeping her alive, she began her recovery journey. The three months she was on a comma were an opportunity for all of us to ask God, "Why does the innocent suffer?"
I remember cringing every time I heard my sister's health report. Especially one day, when the doctors came to tell me they had to mutilate her toes. I remember after hearing the report, I walked into her room and saw her; she was breathing through tubes, and her hands were tide up. I couldn't hold my tears back so I said,
"She is only ten. She was innocent, active and cheerful. Why does she has to go through this?"
I don't know if you have ever wonder and ask the question, "Why me?"
Once, I heard a pastor answer that question saying: "Why not?"
That answer, for the most part was my favorite of all the others I've heard.
It seemed to me that people had all kinds of explanations of why bad things happened to us. Some people said,
"You didn't serve enough at church,"
Others would say, "God may be punishing your sins," Although those answers sounded wise to many, none them satisfied me.
The question "Why me?" has been around for years! It would be discouraging to say no one knows the answer. But, the truth is the answer has been in the Bible for years too!
Have you ever heard the story of Job?
Job was a man that the Bible says was righteous! He didn't sin against God! Yet, his works of righteousness were never good enough to save him. His works didn't protect him from the attacks of the enemy.
Like Job, many times we believe that if we do everything that's right God will bless us. Many times, we think God owes us because we are good. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible says that no one can be righteous by doing the works the law demands (Romans 3:20.) The Bible also says we can receive miracles only by hearing and believing about Christ's sacrifice to make us in right standing with God (Galatians 3). Therefore, we can't stand before God and present our good works to be justified.
In the book of Job, we can read that in order to be justified, we need a mediator between God and man. Before Jesus came to die for us, that was impossible. In other words, it is impossible to be justified by the works of the law. However, there is hope for us because the Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is a high priest who stands between God and sinful men. Jesus is the mediator between man and God! We need him to stand before God and say, we are just because of his blood!
When we stand in our works to be blessed, we get bitter when things don't go our way. Like Job, in chapter 35, he wonders, "What's the point of doing good?" he thinks, "After all, I'm still punished." Job thought God owed him because he was righteous by works but God is no debtor to any man.
Also, in chapter 35, Eliu responds to Job saying, "God is so high above you and your works. He does not get any benefit from you not sinning."
In other words, our sin and wickedness only affect humans so that's why we can't use our holiness card to tell God he owes us health, blessing, healing and life. God doesn't get any benefit from our works! Therefore, we can only access those blessings through Grace--- unmerited favor.
Throughout the book of Job we read how Job presented his case, how he justified himself and quoted all of his righteous acts but we can read God's opinion of this through the words of Eliu who says,
"While you claim to be righteous, you are setting yourself above God. In other words, by saying God is not paying him with good, Job is saying that his own justice is greater than God's. Eliu confronts Job asking, "How is that right?"
Next week, we will find out more about our suffering. Perhaps we need to come to understand that we cannot stand in our holiness to impress God. We need Jesus to justify us and deliver us from the curse. Only his work can defend us.