Is God Punishing Us?

Gaby Lim

August 07, 2020

I feel like God is mad at me. What did I do to deserve this? 

I looked at this family member with sad eyes. She couldn’t understand why she was going through so many problems. She felt like God was punishing her for all the things she had done in the past.

I have been tempted to think the same way when challenges come. I search my heart and ask God, “What did I do wrong?” Whenever I ask this, He assures me of His love, grace, and mercy as my Father.

I think the first thing we need to learn as God’s children is that His favor and love never leave us. I don’t think anybody can emphasize this truth about God better than the apostle Paul in Romans:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:35–39 (NLT)

I read this again and again, and I am awash in its truth. God is not punishing me, because Jesus already took the punishment for my sin. He nailed sin’s ugliness on the cross and endured the torment it brought. 

As I face the reality of disease, hunger, and joblessness, the Holy Spirit reminds me to see beyond what my physical eyes see. He reminds me of God’s word. He leads me to the truth of God’s love, and this becomes even more real than the pain and suffering I face.

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35–37 (NLT)

I am brought back to the cross, which does not end in gore and death but leads to the promised resurrection. The pain of the cross cannot overshadow the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ who loved us.

Ecclesiastes tells us that no one is exempt from the effects of this fallen world. Time and chance happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). We will all suffer illnesses, natural disasters, physical dangers,  and other tragedies because of the destructive effects of sin, which may not necessarily be connected to our own sinful actions.

But what is sure is that those who stand firm until the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13), and God will be glorified. We will rise up from the ashes and there will be no more tears and pain (Revelation 21:4).

If you are a Christian and still caught up in sin now, this is the time to go back to God. Yes, sin has devastating consequences, but I believe that God’s restraining power is holding this world together, so your life has not completely fallen apart.

So, for God’s children, there is no punishment; only favor, mercy, and grace. Whatever we are facing now is a chance to hold on to God and to trust Him and His promise that everything works out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Nothing can separate us from His love.

For those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and are suffering right now, your suffering may be an invitation to come to Jesus, who can restore you and make you new.

The penalty for sin is death. The reality is that sin causes death, a total separation from God. But the good news is that we have a gift of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus (Romans 6:23). Even if we suffer now, we can still respond in thankfulness to God for Jesus, who blots out all our sins and brings us back to the loving arms of our Father in heaven.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

He will not constantly accuse us,

nor remain angry forever.

He does not punish us for all our sins;

he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

For his unfailing love toward those who fear him

is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

He has removed our sins as far from us

as the east is from the west. 

The Lord is like a father to his children,

tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:8–13, NLT

 

Reflection Activity

Are you a Christian who thinks that God is punishing you? Read the following:

1. The book of Job. Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar (Job’s friends) all thought that God was punishing Job for something wrong that he did. How did God respond to these friends? How did God deal with Job’s suffering?

2. The man born blind (John 9:1–3).What did the disciples think caused the man’s blindness? What did Jesus say?

3. Hebrews 12:4–13.How is punishment different from discipline?

 

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The Author

Gaby Lim

Gaby Lim is a book hoarder and dog lover. One of her dreams is to be able to help the poor and marginalized in sustainable ways. A former atheist, she’s grateful to God for changing her life. Gaby is a volunteer at Every Nation Campus Ortigas.

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