Why do good people suffer?
Good people sometimes must endure difficulties as God deals with the wicked.
“I brought hunger to every city and famine to every town. But still you wouldn’t return to me,” says the LORD.
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Why do good people suffer?
Today’s reading is one that might cause some people to question whether God is truly a loving God. In chapter four of Amos, the LORD says that He has brought hunger, famine, drought, blight, plagues, and destruction to the cities and towns of the land. Amos is speaking to God’s people. God is doing all these terrible things to His own people. God is causing His own people to suffer. Why in the world would He do such a thing?
The answer is found in our verse for the day. The LORD says, ‘But still you wouldn’t return to me.’ This is the first of five times that this phrase is repeated exactly. The reason all these things were happening to God’s people is because they wouldn’t come to Him and worship him as their God.
One might say that this seems a bit harsh. We need to keep in mind that God has consistently warned them that if they turned away from Him that all these things would come upon them. This started with Moses while they were in the wilderness. In Deuteronomy 28 Moses laid out very clearly that God would bless them in their obedience and curse them if they were disobedient. God is being faithful to His word. He has also been faithful to send prophets who spoke to the people warning them about their sinful practices and exhorting them to return to God.
What struck me about this text was that there were probably people within those cities who did return to the Lord. God has always maintained a remnant within his people. And even though they were doing what they could to follow the Lord they still had to experience the suffering of the unrepentant people around them. Good people sometimes must endure difficulties as God deals with the wicked.
If any country, including ours turns it’s back on God, we can expect His strong hand of discipline reminding us that he is God. People in the church are not immune to difficult times. In fact, they experience them at the same rate as those who are outside the church. The big difference is that we have the Lord to turn to during those difficult times.
God’s goal is still the same; He wants all His people to return to Him. As Christians we are just as likely to turn away from God as the Israelites of Amos’ time. Returning to Him doesn’t guarantee relief from the difficult times God is allowing in the world around us. He certainly could and if it is His will, He will. All we can do is seek Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and trust Him with everything. Then we need to pray that our country would return to Him and worship Him as their God. Jesus, help us to help Your people return to You.