Lutheran Witness

Published 9:32 am Monday, December 5, 2016

What have I done to deserve this?

When the Lord allows us to suffer, it is easy to feel like He doesn’t love us.  

But His ways run counter to our man-made wisdom!

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How Abraham’s heart (Genesis 22:1-18) must have struggled when God commanded that he sacrifice his only son! He must have said, “What have I done to deserve this? To be required by God to kill my own child?

We feel this way too when we suffer some significant disease like cancer.  Abraham was not unique; as a great saint he suffered sorrow and trouble like us. The great saints have real problems, not make-believe problems. When we suffer a great trial, we too may wonder: “How have I sinned? What have I done to offend God? Have I been a poor father, pastor, husband, child, coworker, neighbor or friend? Have I failed to confess the faith when called to account for it?” We presume we have done something to deserve our suffering and trial. We are wired to say, “You must have done something to deserve this!” Because the Law is written in our hearts, rumbling accusations against us arise from it. The devil, our enemy, seeks to devour us in a cacophony of accusations. Because of this, we are likely to demand justice from God like Job, who begins a judicial examination in the court of God’s Law. All this must have been rumbling around in the heart and mind of poor burdened Abraham.

God’s unaccountable commands tempt us to presume that God is lying to us.  We struggle to trust God’s Word to us. We question “How is it that this bread is the body of Christ?” We all know that bread remains bread and that wine remains wine. We are tempted to rewrite the Transfiguration Hymn: “How Good, Lord to be Here” with “How Good Lord, You’re Not Here.” I know what I know, and you can’t convince me beyond my five senses and well-developed reason. 

We wonder how it is that poor sinners are acquitted of their sins through the proclamations of forgiveness upon the divine command and authority of Christ our Lord. “You can’t mean me, O Lord!” These gifts are attacked by the Law and our human wisdom.

About this struggle, Martin Luther says, “I am unable to resolve this contradiction. Our only consolation is that in affliction we take refuge in God’s promise; for it alone is our staff and rod, and if Satan strikes it out of our hands, we have no place left to stand. But we must hold fast to the promise and maintain that, just as the Scripture states about Abraham.”

The Lords has worked a plan of salvation that runs counter to our wisdom. It is made sure in His promises. On it we stand. Abraham found that out when the Lord commanded the unthinkable sacrifice of him, God provided a substitute for his son, a ram in the thicket. But Abraham in his weakness lived by faith, confident that “God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19).  To face this is what it means to live by faith.

If you are interested in learning more about the Lutheran faith, join us for worship on Sundays at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 285 Hill n’ Dale, Danville,  at 9:30 a.m. or contact Pastor Witten at (606) 365-8273.

Article by Rev. Dr.  Scott  Murray, Senior Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas

“Reprinted with permission of The Lutheran Witness.” 

Edited by Marcia Hopp, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Danville