Suffering is bad. Unjust suffering seems, at times, intolerable. It is not just painful; it is wrong.
Twenty years ago, I was named in an unwarranted lawsuit. In court, some of the plaintiffs—the owner and staff of an abortion clinic—falsely accused me and others of yelling and swearing at women, calling them names, and putting our hands on them as they attempted to enter the abortion clinic. When a Portland pastor testified that he had watched as we quietly and peacefully stood in front of the door, blocking access to the place where innocent children were being killed, the judge’s anger erupted. Finally the judge issued a directed verdict. He told the jury they must find us guilty and choose a punitive amount sufficient to deter us from ever coming to the clinic again. The judgment against us was $8.2 million, the largest in history against a group of peaceful protesters.
My single greatest encouragement during that time was 1 Peter 2, which says of Jesus, “When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (verse 23).
Here's the larger context of that verse:
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:18-23)
Repeatedly I reminded myself that there is only one Judge, only one Supreme Court of the universe. Ultimately it was not the unrighteous judge sitting before us but God himself whom I would answer to. And in the end, not in this life but in the life to come, that one Righteous Judge would make all things right.
In fact, the injustice against Jesus spoken of in 1 Peter 2 culminated in His crucifixion, a hideous injustice that makes all others pale in comparison. And it was the undeserved suffering of Christ on the cross that brought about my redemption. Had He not suffered unjustly on my behalf, and done so with His eyes on His Father, I would be spending eternity in Hell, along with you and everyone else.
During difficult and unjust times, may we follow Christ’s example and entrust ourselves to God, the just Judge.
Photo by Tino Rischawy on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.