Why Do We Suffer and Wait as Christians?

The Bible in various places teaches that we will get good results (rewards) for doing good, and bad results (punishments) for doing evil.

For example in Romans 2:5-11

God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

This theme is repeated in the Book of Proverbs. Many great rewards are promised to those who seek and love wisdom, while the fool (the rebel) is warned that there will be all kinds of disasters awaiting him.

However, the world is more complicated than this, and the Bible acknowledges this. Sometimes we do good things, and we suffer for a season. For example, Joseph refuses to sleep with his master’s wife – and the immediate consequence was that he got thrown into prison for some years (before God exalted him).

Also, there are people who do wickedness who enjoy all the fine things of life and don’t seem to have many troubles compared to others. The Psalmist and Job also talk about this. These kinds of examples show us that the Bible is not teaching a kind of simple cause and effect relationship.

Between the time of doing evil and being punished there is often a delay. Why? Because firstly, if there was not, there would be no opportunity for salvation for the sinner – if the true punishment was meted out. Secondly, for similar reasons to the question: “Why does God not immediately reward virtue?”

I quote from Dr Bruce Waltke:

“You can do good and suffer. God promises reward. God does not reward us immediately, nor does He punish us immediately. If God rewarded virtue immediately it would totally destroy us spiritually, because what would happen is that we would use God. God would become the “Aladdin’s Lamp” by which we got whatever we wanted, and that would destroy us. We would use God. We would confound pleasure with morality. We would do good for our pleasure, not for the love of God Himself. Therefore, there is almost always a gap between virtue and its rewards. And by the gap, and the suffering in between, God saves us from our selfishness, and our using Him.

And so Paul will say, “We glory in tribulation because tribulation works character. By that delay, it is to our good, because if he didn’t put us through suffering before the reward, it would destroy us spiritually. We would become utterly selfish”.

Through the gap between righteous actions and their rewards, God teaches us faith, hope, courage, patience, endurance. By the gap, we are better people.”

God’s purpose is to make us like Jesus Christ,  and Jesus was not selfish. So God doesn’t set up a system in which we need faith and patience so that we are not like laboratory rats or Pavlov’s dog, that act on stimulus/response alone.

Next time you are suffering, try to remember that God is looking for these qualities of faith, patience and endurance, because He is thinking about your eternal character in Christ. And thank Him for it.

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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