Updated: May 19, 2019
“It was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins!” (Isaiah 53:4
I was reading Isaiah 53 and this passage really jumped at me. The scripture is talking about Jesus and how He took our weaknesses and sorrows (our sins, punishment, judgment, burdens, etc) on Him at the cross, and when people saw Him on that Cross (which was actually OUR CROSS that He was carrying), they automatically assumed that God was punishing Him for His own sins. That He must have done something bad and God is punishing Him.
“And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins!” Isaiah 53:4
It made me think; How many times do we see stuff like this? We see someone suffering or going through a hard time or a difficult season and we immediately assume that it's their fault that they are struggling. They must have done something bad and God is punishing them for it. That they deserve what they are going through.
"Why are they sick all the time? They probably don't eat right or exercise”, “why is their child wayward? They must not be good parents." “Why is she still single? There must be something wrong with her.” “Why can't she have a baby? She must have played with her life when she was younger and ruined her womb. or like Africans so zealously like to say "she must be a witch and has eaten her children in the spirit world” (CHAIII!!!) “Why did their spouse leave them? They must not be doing something right at home” “Why is their church not growing? They must not be a good Pastor”. “they wouldn't have cheated if they did the right thing or were a good spouse”, etc.
Why are we like this?
Why are we always quick to put the blame on the one that is hurting, suffering or struggling? Why can't we just sympathize and accept the situation for what it is and pray for a better outcome for that person? There are many instances that God Himself will purposely allow someone to suffer, or go through a very challenging Season, not because they did anything deserving of that suffering, but because He is trying to produce a greater glory through their suffering.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:17
The Bible tells us that Jesus did not sin. As a matter of matter, for His entire 33 years here on Earth, He did not sin, not once. He was perfect and blameless and did all the right things but yet the Zealots assumed that the Cross was God’s punishment to Him, but the truth is that the Cross was OUR PUNISHMENT which He took in our place.
Here are a few more examples in the Bible of God allowing suffering to come on someone, not because of their sin, but because of a greater purpose.
“There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:1-12)
God was bragging on Job and Satan said Job only loved God because God had blessed him with so much wealth. So God told Satan to do his worse and see if Job still wouldn't praise Him. So Satan went out from God's presence and did his worse.
“One day when Job’s sons and daughters (10 in total) were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.” (Job 1:13-20)
Job lost EVERYTHING in the twinkle of an eye. In an instant, he lost everything (wealth, children, livestock, servants, etc). He lost it all, just like that. But Satan wasn’t done. He had more suffering in store for Job.
“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” Job 2:7-8
Satan really wanted to break Job so that Job will get angry at God for allowing this to happen to him and curse God, but Job did not. He remained blameless before God.
“His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:9-10
His wife basically told him to curse God and die because there was no point in him living anymore. She was ready to become a widow. Better to be a widow than to live with this mess. But Job did not curse God. He remained blameless before God.
Before he lost everything, he was a wealthy man in the community, popular, well known and well loved, but after this happened, everyone deserted him. He only had 3 friends left. And the Bible says that his 3 friends came to see him. Here’s what happened when they came to see him;
“When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” (Job 2:11-13)
His friends were speechless… for seven days. They just sat there with him and had no words. That’s how intense his suffering was.
After 7 days went by, they finally found words. But they weren't words of encouragement for their dear friend Job, they were words of condemnation. Instead of comforting him, they started to blame him. They assumed he must’ve done something really bad for this to happen to him.
“Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed? My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (Job 4:7-8)
They were indirectly saying that bad things only happen to bad people. So if Job is going through this, he must have done something bad to deserve it. According to their reasoning, no way would an innocent, blameless, and righteous man go through all this suffering for no apparent reason. Innocent people don’t suffer. The only people who suffer are bad people, so Job, Buddy, if you are suffering, you must’ve caused it somehow.
Instead of mourning with him, and comforting him, and trying to soothe his pain and encourage him to stay strong, they are blaming him and making him feel even worse.
God was not happy with the way his friends treated him and he was especially angry with them because they did not show Job God's love but instead represented Him (God) in a negative light.
"After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)
They gave Job the impression that God was punishing him for something when it wasn't so. They wanted him to confess sins he did not commit and made him doubt himself. We need to stop using God's name to be messengers of condemnation. God is not pleased when He is painted in a negative light, especially when that is used to oppress someone who is suffering and in pain. God will not take it lightly.
"But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” (1 Samuel 1:5-6)
Hannah was barren and couldn't have children because God Himself closed her womb. It wasn't her fault. She didn't do anything wrong. God shut her womb because He wanted to use Hannah's future child, Samuel, in a mighty way. He wanted to get her to a place of complete desperation where she herself will promise to give that baby back to God. God did not want her hogging that child and promote her own personal agenda on that child as some parents do. For example, parents force their kids to choose certain career paths because it makes them (the parent) look good.
They make them play sports, play musical instruments, do ballet, enroll them in one training class or the other (gymnastics, dancing, swimming, etc) not because the child loves it but because they (the parent) have plans for the child to be something in the future.
There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, a parent’s agenda can get in the way of God’s agenda. You may want that kid to be a doctor but God wants him to be a missionary in Africa, etc .
God had serious plans for Samuel and didn’t want Hannah or her husband getting in the way, so He shut her womb and let her rival torment her everyday and push her to the place of desperation. Right where God needed her to be.
"In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord , weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “ Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11)
God knew that if He gave Hannah a baby immediately, she wouldn't have given Samuel back to Him. He needed Samuel to liberate the Israelites, so God shut her womb, made her desperate and got the results He wanted. Then Hannah conceived and had a baby.
Sometimes God Himself will place a blockage or shut a door for His own reasons. We need to stop blaming and hurting people who are going through stuff when they have nothing to do with it. Don't be a Peninnah. Many people are like Peninnah. Constantly blaming and provoking people who are suffering and going through a hard time. Don't be a child of the Devil, constantly joining him to be an accuser and destroyer of the Brethren. Join God instead in lifting them up and praying for them.
Job’s suffering was not his fault, and it did not last forever. God rewarded Him and gave him double for his troubles.
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” Job 42:12-17
It was God’s test, and Satan’s attack, through no fault of Job. He endured and kept a pure heart before God despite the accusations from his brethren and God rewarded him for it.
Hannah also received her breakthrough. She conceived and had Samuel.
“…Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” (1 Samuel 1: 19-20)
And he became a great Prophet in Israel. He was one of the greatest Judges (a title similar to that of a King in those days) and Prophets Israel ever had. .
“As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a Prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.” (1 Samuel 3:19-21)
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
We must STOP putting blame on the one that is hurting. Let’s practice love.
Nobody knows the whole story of someone's struggle. You don't know why God has allowed that predicament to come upon them. It's best not to judge or make assumptions and instead pray for them. That is the perfect will of Christ.
"...and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16
" Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
“And above all these PUT ON LOVE, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14