Read Luke 13:1-9.
In Jesus' time it was commonly taught that suffering is always judgment. For example, when Jesus' disciples encountered a man born blind, they asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2). And Jesus took time to correct this false understanding of God's Word. Truly, He offered a wake-up call—offensive to those who believed they had no need to repent.
It is only because of His astounding love that God allows sinners to live.
But before we turn to Jesus' correction, let's be reminded of the ways God uses our suffering in this world for our good.
First, suffering helps to purify God's children. Just as fire cleanses that which is pure and valuable, so too are we purified by times of suffering. God allows us to walk through seasons of suffering to produce within us perseverance, character, and hope (see Romans 5:3-4).
Second, suffering brings us closer to God. Paul endured that which was "far beyond [his] ability to endure" by relying on God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). God is with us, strengthening us and comforting us.
Third, suffering empowers us to have compassion on others who suffer. As God comforts us in suffering, we are equipped to then comfort others (see 2 Corinthians 1:4).
Finally, suffering prepares us to bear more fruit. When we have that peace that transcends understanding in situations the world says should crush us, it bears witness to the eternal hope we have in our sovereign, faithful God. So don't waste your affliction. Let it polish your testimony.
The crowd that had gathered to listen to Jesus beginning in Luke 11 had no such understanding of suffering. And goaded by Jesus' hard teaching, they tried to highlight their righteousness by bringing up two recent disasters—deadly disasters that, in their eyes, were clear indications that those who suffered had been deserving of such horrific pain (see Luke 13:1-5). The crowd wanted Jesus to affirm their belief system and their piety. But His response took them all by surprise.
Jesus made it clear that those who died were not worse sinners than those who survived. He assured the crowd (and us) that we are living on borrowed time; we all need to repent. It is only because of His astounding love that God allows sinners to live. He is patient because He longs for us to respond to His merciful invitation to receive salvation through His Son. All tragedies are loving warnings to turn to the Lord and escape the righteous judgment that is coming.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your patience with me. Thank You that You have called me out of darkness and brought me into the Kingdom of light. Help me to see seasons of suffering as opportunities to draw near to You and point others to the hope of glory through Jesus Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?'" (Luke 13:2).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Enduring Wisdom: WATCH NOW