Suffering, Sin, and Salvation
Reading: Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath… My soul is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
(Psalm 6:1, 3-4)
David was well-acquainted with unjust suffering. For many years, he hid in the desert, always under threat of attack from King Saul. David had done nothing but to serve Saul admirably. But Saul hated him.
Yet, David was also keenly aware of his own sin. He recognized that not all of his suffering was unjust. In fact, some of it was the Lord’s discipline for his sinfulness.
For us, pain is pain; and we want out of it. We have lost the nobility of suffering unjustly. And we’ve lost the dignity of accepting discipline for our wrongs. We just want the pain to go away.
But this distorts our relationship with God because our God is the God who embraced suffering and and who died. And none of the suffering that he endured was just. Indeed, Jesus Christ was the only truly innocent sufferer. But he was also acquainted with just punishment, for the suffering he endured was for our sake, in our place.
It’s in Jesus Christ that we see the steadfast love of the Lord our God. And because he suffered unjustly, we can too. But because his suffering was for our sin, suffering can be the occasion for humility and for searching your heart for sin, as well.
But more than this, his cross gives us the confidence to turn to him in our suffering, to ask boldly, “How long until you act, O Lord?” It gives us the assurance that whether our suffering is just or unjust, he welcomes us into his presence. He hears our groaning. He suffers with us.
Finally, the death of Jesus shows us his commitment to us and the security of the promises that he makes—they will prove true. And he promises that one day every tear will be wiped away and that there will be no more suffering. And so we can endure our suffering now because we also have that sure hope.
Lord, your hand is heavy on us. Who can stand up to your discipline? Yet, we know our suffering is the chastening of a Father, meant to correct us. Humble us, then, O Lord. Only do not grind us into the dust. Forgive us our sins and let us receive the joy of our salvation. Bring back to our hearts the peace that surpasses understanding. And grant to us revival.
All our hope is in you.