Why Do Our Friends Suffer?

When we see our friends suffering it is tempting to start examining their lives to see what they have done that has brought this suffering upon them.  This is a natural tendency for us all.  Job’s friends did it.  The disciples did it with the man born blind.  We often do the same thing.  It’s common to man.  It is also misguided, unhelpful, & downright sinful.  Consider these words from Dan McCartney:

We know that we are Christians by our suffering.  Remember that Job was tested because God approved him (Job 1).  Jesus was severely tested immediately after God uttered his approval of him from heaven (Matt. 3:17).  We may be suffering not as a punishment but for exactly the opposite reason–because God approves of us. (Why Does it Have to Hurt?, 76)

The next time you see someone, especially a fellow believer suffering, resist the temptation to try and find a hidden sin causing their suffering.  It’s misguided because you are not God and you have not been given the “secret things.” (Dt 29:29)  It’s unhelpful because your job is not to determine the past causes, it is to help your friend to have a proper future response (1 These 5:14).  It’s sinful because the only reason you think that you can determine the hidden purpose of God & the hidden motives of your friends heart is PRIDE.

Instead of examining someone else’s heart why don’t you 1) pray for your friend, 2) examine your own heart, 3) encourage your friend, & 4) try to learn something about God through the circumstances (use Elihu in Job as an example).  This would be far more appropriate.