Hardship equals judgment; “God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Which one is right?
14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
Throughout the centuries, even millennia, people have judged others by their circumstances. Jesus paid no attention to stations in life; in fact, He made it a point to help those who were considered “cursed” by God. John 9 (the account of the man blind from birth) is a prime example. Matthew Henry, 1662-1714, made this statement,
“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins,
but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”
Albeit stated in soft form, Matthew Henry understood that physical ailments were not a direct judgment from God. Of his nine children and two wives, four children died as babies and his first wife of smallpox at 25. He was well acquainted with suffering.
The book of Job is in direct opposition to the idea that physical blessings were God’s blessings and physical ailments, and even low stations in life, were the judgment of God. All forms of death and hardship have as their root the curse of sin (Genesis 3:14-19). We can look at these judgments in two ways:
- God arbitrarily chose these judgments to impose upon mankind and the world;
- God was stating the effects of sin on mankind and the world.
We cannot begin to know all of the ramifications of Adam and Eve’s decision to rebel against God and follow the advice of the serpent. We do know the cost was high:
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—Romans 5:12
The happy news is that Jesus came to reverse the effects of sin and death on our world:
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18
Does Jesus physically heal everyone? No. Has He reversed death? Not yet. Jesus knew something that we could only hope for, that there is life after death–JESUS IS LIFE!
The “extraordinary grace” that Matthew Henry mentioned is wrapped up in Romans 5:1-5,
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
And His Spirit is our seal of things to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). With this promise we shout with the apostle Paul,
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Thanks be to You, O God, for giving us the victory in the Lord Jesus Christ (v.57)! With the promise of being with You for eternity and Your seal of the Holy Spirit in us, we can “stand firm, letting nothing move us away from our faith in You. We can now give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v.58). Amen.