Our Link Minister, Rev’d David Spence, sends the following Message for the month of November 2018 ….
When I am out and about doing my pastoral work, visiting people in hospital or in their own homes I am frequently asked questions. One question that arises again and again concerns what is happening to them. They will ask, “What have I done to deserve this?”
Perhaps they are battling with a serious illness or have been hurt in an accident that was no fault of their own. It could be that their marriage has fallen apart, and they are left broken-hearted, or perhaps they have lost their job because the firm they work for has gone bust.
The feeling behind the question is that life is so unfair. They are not bad people; in fact, they try to lead reasonably good lives and are kind towards their neighbours. So, what could they possibly have done to deserve what they are going through?
The answer to their question is simply that they haven’t done anything! They certainly don’t deserve what has happened to them. It is just that life is not always fair and sometimes bad things do happen to good people.
Something else that lies behind the question, “What have I done to deserve this?” is a misunderstanding of the ways of God. In ancient times people used to believe that if you are suffering in some way then you must have done something wrong and sinful that has offended God, and your suffering is his punishment upon you.
This was a widespread belief in Old Testament times. We have all heard about Job and his ‘Comforters’. In this biblical story, Job is a good man who loses everything, his family, his possessions, even his health. When his friends come to ‘comfort’ him, they tell him that the reason for his suffering is that he has been sinful in some way. This is not true at all, because Job is in fact a truly good man who has always remained faithful to God.
The ancient story of Job was written to protest the widely held belief at that time. It made people re-think and question their understanding of God.
No, God does not bring sickness or suffering or disaster upon us because we have behaved badly. He loves us regardless of our actions and behaviour. He desires our well-being even when we mess up in life. In fact, he is right there with us in our times of trouble. He is there sharing our suffering and offering his help, support, and comfort through all our struggles.
Yours in Christian love,