Salvation and suffering

Even though I've attended a WELS church for 44 years, I have no peace that I will be saved. I see the horrific things being done to people around the world and then I see me and how easy I have it. I think of it kind of like survivor's guilt. Surely they will all be saved for having had to suffer in this lifetime, while I will suffer in hell when I die because I had it so easy. Help! I believe Satan is completely crushing my faith. How should my thinking be?

Trying to find a correlation between people’s earthly sufferings and salvation can lead a person to go in two directions.  You went in one direction.  Asaph went the other direction in Psalm 73.  He looked around at the cozy, comfy lives of unbelievers and saw a huge contrast with his life of suffering as a child of God.  He was confused until he recognized that people’s earthly circumstances are neither a sure indicator of their relationship with God nor a precursor of eternal conditions (Psalm 73:17).

If we are going to find a connection between earthly suffering and salvation, the person we need to look to is Jesus Christ.  He is the one who suffered in the place of guilty sinners (Isaiah 53:4-6).  That is the focus of our worship during this season of Lent.  Jesus’ suffering, along with his active obedience in obeying the law of God in our place, is our focus throughout life.  What we suffer or do not suffer does not contribute to our salvation.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but could it be that God in his wisdom and love has earthly suffering planned for you in the future?  That is a possibility.  But whether or not that suffering takes place, you can be at peace about your salvation. Why?  Because you have the sure words and promises of God.  Words and promises like:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).  “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Isaiah 44:22).   “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16)  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  (1 John 3:1)

Look to Jesus.  Stay connected to him through the Bible and the Lord’s Supper.  Remember your baptism (Titus 3:4-7).  It is through the gospel that God convinces us all the more of our salvation and equips us in the daily skirmishes with Satan (Ephesians 6:10-17).  God bless you.