I consider GOD SEES THE TRUTH BUT WAITS by Leo Tolstoy to be one of the absolute MUST reads in the category of short stories, and I have recommended it here many times over the years. The story ably answers the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” (Easy. There are no good people.) The moral of the story is NOT that we suffer for our sins, which is true. We do not suffer for them for the purpose of propitiation or atonement, which is impossible and a foolish conceit, but that we suffer for them as a natural consequence (and, in a few cases, because our Master suffered unjustly, and we are not greater than our Master.) In the story, our main character (a foolish man, but not a criminal) is framed for a murder he did not commit. He is imprisoned in a Gulag in Siberia and suffers there many decades – but in the prison, he grows in wisdom and spirituality. God uses him and his suffering to paint a picture of our nature and to illustrate the foolishness of us ever demanding to receive “what we deserve.” What is it if we suffer for sins we did not commit when we (even more so) do not suffer for the sins we do commit?
In GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS, we learn that we have a very skewed, immature, and childish view of justice. Like toddlers, when we are wronged we become inflamed with a sense of justice! But when we wrong others (willfully or not,) we find it comforting and pleasant to escape justice. We’re all about forgiveness and passing over sins until we are wronged or falsely accused. Then we become fiery advocates of justice! If you were falsely accused, would you demand that the error be corrected? Or would you say “Well, I definitely deserve that for the stuff I actually did and got away with”? Again, regardless of our opinions on this, none of our sufferings suffice to propitiate or atone for our real sins, so it’s all a tempest in a very short teapot of life. Read the story and perhaps gain a better perspective on suffering unjustly.