All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 (NIV).
Does God cause us to suffer? Does God persecute us, or allow us to be persecuted? Does God persecute, punish, or cause suffering for some people and not others, and does this sometimes cause us to suffer even when we have done nothing wrong? Repeat after me: yes. It’s simply the truth, though we might debate how much we, vs God, actually cause the suffering. Last question: does that make God’s judgment wrong or evil?
No. Of course not.
Yet repeat this too, friend sinner. We don’t deserve to be saved and our choices merit God punishing us. Even when we haven’t done anything to merit the ‘punishment’ that seems to be happening to us, we don’t deserve the beautiful grace God gives to us. That’s what makes it grace. It’s undeserved, un-asked-for, something we can’t get on our own but is freely given to us because He who gives it loves more than we do.
As a result, it is impossible to see that grace, to accept it, and NOT conclude that God’s judgment is right. Noodle that thought awhile. You and I can’t accept that grace is a good thing (and thus whoever gives grace is doing good for us) yet conclude that He who gives it has bad judgment. Yet be wary of the logical fallacy where B does not necessarily always follow A.
Consider, then, how, with God, He only brings or allows suffering so that grace might increase. He doesn’t cause grace by invoking suffering but, instead, brings good out of that suffering. He always punishes only where punishment is earned. When Jesus allows suffering, he always offers clear paths back to His healing love. What’s more, God loves us enough to allow us to embrace the consequences of our choices. Sometimes we choose things are destructive; got skin, got sin. It is love that respects those choices, love that counsels “you shouldn’t do that. He offers an excellent, better way” yet stands back when we say “no.” An all-powerful God could simply compel us to do His bidding. After all, that’s what we would do. And that isn’t love.
Where love is, grace is. Where grace is, God is. Where God is, there is justice. Justice follows right judgment.
Let’s conclude by keeping it real. That also means God’s actions don’t always seem fair; it’s true. Yet where in the Bible did God promise fairness? He promised love, forgiveness, peace, and justice, and He gives them. When you have those things, fair is meaningless. Indeed, those qualities replace fairness, and those qualities always define God. That is fairer than we deserve, and that brings us back to grace.
For further reading: Romans 6:1, Philippians 1:28, 2 Thessalonians 1:6.
Lord, help me to submit to You and Your right judgment.