Late last October, I challenged myself to read through the entirety of Scripture in a year. Today, I read the story of Ahaz, king of Judah, as told in 2 Chronicles 28, and it gave me a lot to think about.
Ahaz was one of the many apostate kings who abandoned the law and clung to idols—even sacrificing his sons as a burnt offering(!). And God’s wrath was upon him.
Verse 5 says that Judah was given into the hand of Syria and Israel. 120,000 men of Judah were killed by Pekah the son of Remaliah, and the men of Israel captured 200,000 of their relatives, women and children, along with “much spoil.”
The Edomites invaded. The Phillistines raided.
Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help, giving him tribute (read: cash). But instead of helping Ahaz, he took the money and he too went to war against him!
So what did Ahaz do? Verse 22 tells us: “In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz.”
“For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me'” (verse 23 a).
“But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel” (verse 23 b).
God’s wrath was upon him, and Ahaz suffered mightily.
Many people ask the question, “Why do we suffer? If God loves us, why do bad things happen?”
I think the answer can really be found in verse 22: In our times of distress we need to not become more faithless, but to trust God even more.
Not all suffering is a consequence of our sins. Suffering also comes from sins commited against us (to say nothing of the unexplainable hardships that occur). All suffering is meant to show us our dependence on God and to cause us to move closer to him.