Why is God Punishing Me?
“Why is God punishing me?”
The sorrowful wail of a fellow believer going through unspeakable darkness and agony. My heart breaks. My soul cries out. No, God is not punishing you. Not even when you feel hopeless, when all the light seems to be sucked out of your world and all that is left agonizing darkness.
When we suffer hopeless anguish; When we feel as if there is nothing to live for, it can be easy to wonder if God is punishing us for something we did; When cancer strikes your family, when your child leaves the church, when you lose your job, or when you discover your spouse is having an affair, or you suffer a broken marriage, it is easy to assume that God is punishing you for a sin in your life. I thought like this a number of years ago. I thought that it was because of some sins in my life…that is why this is happening and I blamed God in my misery….then I blamed myself for committing sins and making God hate me.
What about you? Have you ever been there? Hopeless? Wondering why God is punishing you? If you have, I have some wonderful news for you. You are not alone.
In the book of Hebrews we read that the believers had been suffering through persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired of the persecution, discouraged from the affliction, confused about God’s providence and doubting his faithfulness in permitting such suffering. Through the first few chapters we read about some doctrine and warnings, admonitions and so on. Then the book of Hebrews comes to the point I want to talk about: The persecution and suffering that the believers were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. The book of Hebrews explains that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin, for your sin, and my sin, no matter what the sin is, no matter how bad that sin is, no matter how bad you think you are…Jesus sacrifice for sin was once for all believers for all time. No sacrifice of any kind for sin was ever needed again. That is so beautiful, isn’t it?
No…God is not punishing you, no matter how hard life gets. No matter how bad it seems. I hve had some bad times in my life, watching loved ones die, seeing my marriage go through rough times, watching family members walk out on the faith, and so on. I digress… In Chapter 12 of Hebrews we arrive at the climax, the pinnacle of the beautiful message. It is here that we read of the reason that those in Christ face all the suffering, the persecution, the anguish, the heartache: “It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons.” God is treating us as sons! As his children! He loves us as his own children! Can you grasp that? It took me a long to grasp it, and if the truth be known I still cannot fully understand it. God almighty is our father. Our suffering, heartache and anguish is not God’s wrathful punishment against our sins. God spent his wrath – all of it – for all time, for every sin you and I have committed, on the cross and in Jesus Christ. When you discipline your child you do not do it out of wrathful anger, rather you discipline to correct, to encourage, and to guide your children. You discipline your child in love, and God is the same.
God is not punishing you: God loves you! He is your Father and loves you as his child! He cares for you. And He cares about your suffering. He cares so much about your suffering that he strategically places trials in your path, and blesses you with suffering to bring you closer to him, to enable you to grow and mature spiritually, to teach you to throw down all your idols and crutches and place your trust in Him alone. Oh how sweet that is! God pays such close attention to every minute detail in directing the sufferings we face so that we will share in his holiness because he wants us to be joyful and happy in Him, He wants us to be content in him alone, he wants us to enjoy the peace that surpasses all understanding and enjoy the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
It is important that we remember this:When God disciplines us it is a wonderful form of his favour toward his children. It’s what a loving father does. He is not giving us what we deserve. We deserve death, we deserve his wrath, we deserve punishment…BUT he canceled the record of debt that stood against us by nailing it to the cross. And now when we suffer we can know that he is training us in righteousness. Why? Because our heavenly father loves his children so very much. Yes, even if you hate yourself…He loves you.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.