Is God Punishing Me?

From John Bloom at Desiring God:

As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed?

If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews.

The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting.

So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a very important point.

He wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. Chapters 7-10 beautifully explain that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once for all believers for all time (10:14). No sacrifice of any kind for sin was ever needed again (10:18).

He followed that up in chapter 11 with example after example of how the life of faith has always been difficult for saints.

And then he wrote the tender encouragement and exhortation of chapter 12 where he quoted Proverbs 3:11-12:

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.

“It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons,” he said. These saints were not to interpret their painful experiences as God’s angry punishment for their sins. That angry punishment was completely spent on Jesus—once for all—on the cross.

Rather, this was the message they were to understand from their hardships: God loves you! He has fatherly affection for you. He cares deeply for you. He is taking great pains so that you will share his holiness (12:10) because he wants you to be as happy as possible and enjoy the peaceful fruit of righteousness (12:11).

This is why as a father, whenever I discipline my children, I always try to make it clear to them that I am not paying them back for their sins. That’s why I don’t use the term “punishment.” I don’t want them to misunderstand and think I am giving them what they deserve. That’s God’s job. And if they trust in Jesus, all their punishment was taken care of on the cross.

Instead, I always use the terms “discipline” or “correction” and explain that I love them and my intention, even though the discipline is painful, is to correct and train them. I want them to know that their father loves them, cares for them deeply, and is taking great pains to point them toward the way of joy.

It is crucial that we remember that everything God feels toward us as Christians is gracious. When God disciplines us it is a precious form of his favor. It’s what a loving father does. He is not giving us what we deserve because he “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands…nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Instead, he is training us in righteousness. Because he loves us so very much.

*            *            *

Recommended resource: “The Painful Discipline of Our Heavenly Father

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

2 thoughts on “Is God Punishing Me?

  1. I needed this so much. I am a signle mom of three and I am fighting depresion in a way I have never fought before.
    I WANT to believe this SO much. I just can’t get out of my mind the verse that says “You reap what you sow”

    Any other “Godly Wisdom” you have I would welcome it .

  2. No, Dear Heart,
    God, who is a loving Father, is STILL the Redeemer. The Bible says that He gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:3)
    Look for His incredible goodness, trust in His love for you and your babies. Psalm 37:3
    Trust in the LORD, and do good;Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

    Yes, we blow it, everything we do has a consequence, whether good or bad, but God, your loving Father is always there for you with arms opened wide. He has made a way for us to ask forgiveness and move forward into deeper and more precious relationship with Him.
    The enemy of your soul is forever using one way or another to drive you away from God. God always wants us to come TO Him. God does not ever condemn His children. When we come into His household, He wants for us to follow His ways; His rules. But God is always a loving Father to His kids.

    Romans 8: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

    In His presence is fullness of joy. Nehemiah 8:10

    Isaiah 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
    He will gather the lambs with His arm,
    And carry them in His bosom,
    And gently lead those who are with young.

    Psalm 31:8-24

    Phillippians 4:7 & 8

    Ask Him, Deneen, to come into your life, get into a good church with a good support system, a loving church, for you and your children. Read your Bible. Teach your children, change your focus off of you and become the mom to your precious lambs. Focus on God, on serving your family. When we focus too much on us, our world becomes very small and it is hard to see past us and our circumstance. Count your blessings… always. Maintain a thankful heart..
    Learn this song (cut & paste this link into your browser)

    (It is from White Christmas, Bing Crosby is singing it 🙂

    Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
    Whose mind is stayed on You,
    Because he trusts in You.

    There is SO much for you in God, Deneen. I KNOW the freedom and joy of heart healing and forgiveness. And I know it is all there as a precious gift for you as well. A Godly mother is one of the very best gifts we can give to our children

    Love & Blessings,

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