Q: Why Me? Why Do I Have to Go through This?
This Q&A series is intended to help you take steps forward in wisdom. Lay your questions before Scripture with us; find in the ashes that wisdom “will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown” (Prov. 4:9). What questions about grief, God, or the Bible do you have right now? Contact us here.
“It’s Not Fair!” cries the sister as her older sibling is allowed to do something that she cannot as yet do. Perhaps most of us can remember being that sibling who thought our parents were not being fair. Justice was what they loudly demand. Why do I have to be denied this when he or she gets to have it?
Peter’s Death Foreshadowed
My sense as I read John 21 is that Peter had something like this going on when he asked the Lord what was going to happen to John. Peter had just been told by the Lord that he was going to a place he did not want to go. Others were going to take him and kill him. He would be bound and powerless to stop them from doing it. He would face execution and he would not want to be there. Who would? Peter has just declared his love for the Lord and his desire to follow Him, but it seems like he is turning to the Lord and saying, “Are You going to be fair? Is John going to have to go through this as well? There seems to be an inequity here if I have to go through this suffering and the other disciples like John do not. It’s not fair!”
Have you and I been like Peter here when we go through or anticipate a time of suffering in our lives? Have we looked around and thought, Why me? Why does the path of suffering that others are on seem so much less severe than my suffering? Why Lord do I have to go through this?
Let’s look at the Lord’s answer (or non-answer, really) as He interacts with Peter.
“What is that to you? Follow Me.”
The Lord has a plan, a path for each of us, and calls us to follow Him. Let’s reflect on whom we are following. This is the Lord, the One who suffered the ultimate in “Unfairness.” He suffered for sins, your sins and my sins, not His. Was it fair? No! But it was an act of love, carried out on our behalf in which the Father was glorified. This mantle of God-glorifying love falls on each one of us as we follow the Lord. It is a love that calls for the degree of suffering He has purposed in each one of our lives.
Jesus Suffers with His People
Let’s consider the Apostle Paul’s testimony in this regard as recorded in Colossians 1:24-25,
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.”
First of all, we need to understand that there is nothing lacking in the effects of our Lord’s work on the cross. His suffering on the cross was sufficient for the forgiveness of all sin as declared in Hebrews 9:26, “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
So if this is not what Paul meant by “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” what did he mean? Certainly it is that, until this current age comes to a close, Christ’s love is on display through His followers as we carry out the stewardship given to each of us from God. And the sufferings that are a part of that stewardship are His sufferings, for He suffers with us. Remember the glorified Lord, after His ascension into heaven, encountering Paul on the road to Damascus? Paul, who at that point was called Saul, had been persecuting Christians. Did the Lord say, “Saul, why are you persecuting My people?” No, He said, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Yes, when we suffer our Lord suffers. These are the afflictions of Christ which are still being filled up. This is the path on which He has you and me when we follow Him. And He is with us completely in it all.
The Stewardship of Sufferings He Calls Us To
So, has the fairness question been answered in its entirety? No, and neither did our Lord answer Peter. He instead redirected Peter’s attention back to Himself. Follow Me!
Are we angry when our load in life seems to be more than others have to go through? If so, let’s redirect our focus and put it back on the Lord. In Him we find the One who suffers with us, the One whose Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:27).
Where is the One we follow taking us? Yes, through the stewardship of sufferings He has called each one of us to. But He will not only be with us through it all, He will use our journey to show us ever deeper truths of the wondrous glory to which He takes us. The Apostle Paul testified of this in Romans 8:18 where he declares, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Do these words diminish the depth of suffering through which we go? No, they magnify the amazing glory to which we go as we respond to the One who brings our attention back to Himself and says, “Follow Me.”
- MartyHope Grandfather to Noelle
Marty currently serves on the Chaplain team of Skyword ministries at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and works at a medical device manufacturing and packaging company.
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