By Brooke Holt
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household?” Matthew 10:24-25
Many Christian people hold on to a terrible misconception. Far too often, they believe bad things happen to bad people, and good things happen to good people. Jews have struggled with this concept as well. You can see that struggle reflected in Rabbi Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner wrestles with why God would allow suffering in this world.
I will not even begin to attempt to answer that deep theological question in this devotion, but I will address the misconception about suffering. In the verses preceding today’s passage, Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution. He provided clear instructions on how to deal with the persecution while he also spoke to the extremity of it: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:21-22). These words of Jesus pierced as family ties ran deep. Jesus wanted his followers to understand suffering was and would continue to be a part of this world. If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was misunderstood and suffered in this world, then his followers could and can expect the same.
As an example of being misunderstood and rejected, Jesus reminded the disciples of the time he healed the mute man who was demon-possessed. Since the Pharisees could not deny Jesus’ power to heal this man, they claimed that Jesus drove out demons by the prince of demons – Beelzebub. Albeit a ludicrous claim, and the best they could muster up that day, these religious leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah and aligned his work with that of Satan.
People said and did terrible things to Jesus. Bad things continue to happen to good people in this world. Suffering is not a sign of your disobedience or lack of faith; instead, it may very well be an indicator of your obedience and faithfulness. Until Jesus comes again, this world remains in the grips of the evil one - the father of lies who thrives on discord and division. While Satan cannot rob you of your inheritance in Christ, he will seek to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10). As Paul wrote, Christians are engaged in a spiritual battle in this world (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Ephesians 6:11-13).
Don’t let the struggles and the persecution surprise you. If Jesus faced these things (and he did - just look at the cross), then you will face them, too. The great news is Jesus has overcome, and through the power of his Holy Spirit, you will, too!
How do you view suffering and persecution in this world? How might the Lord want to adjust your thinking according to this passage? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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