How many times have you wondered if God was punishing you? Maybe something bad happens in your life or your prayers aren’t being answered. Maybe you see the tribulation around you in this world and you think ‘Is this God punishing me, my family, or the world at large?’ Well, I’m here to tell you that is absolutely not the case.
I have wondered many times if it was God punishing me or if I had done something to anger him. I have experienced much suffering, pain, and tribulation in my life and many times wondered if it was God’s hand punishing me. I have cried out to God and I did not hear His answer and wondered what I did to deserve to suffer and why God was punishing me.
It seemed to me at the time that the only logical conclusion was that bad things mean God’s punishment. What I did not understand is that the fear and punishment that were a regular part of my childhood and were conditioning me to believe that punishment was a normal part of life. This belief was tied into how I saw myself and God, so in my mind, the two went hand in hand together.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In my upbringing in the Mormon Church, all of my punishment was backed up with Scripture and I was constantly told it was God’s wrath against me because I was evil. As a small child, I had no way to defend these lies and easily accepted them as truths. So as an adult, it was natural for me to believe that my behavior would incur the wrath of God because I deserved punishment.
The truth is, many of us grow up believing many such lies about God, and it is so easy to use specific verses from the Old Testament to back them up. If we are not taught in church, we may have a Bible-believing relative or even schoolmate who tells us we are going to hell, or God punishing us. It really does not take much for a child to grasp on to such a fearful concept, and the devil will use real-life circumstances to reinforce it for us.
It took me until recently to realize it was never God punishing me. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are sinners in the hands of a loving Father, who is full of grace and mercy for us. God does not look down on us from heaven and think about how foolish, evil, or terrible we are. He does not think about how disappointed He is in us or about how we’ve wronged Him. God can only see us through His filter of amazing Grace, thanks to Jesus Christ.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
When Jesus came, one of the first things He did was to teach at the synagogue. In Luke 4, He unrolls the scroll to teach from Isaiah 61. “The spirit of The Sovereign Lord is upon me for the Lord has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus does not finish reading this prophecy.
The Prophecy of the Messiah by Isaiah in this scroll ends in God’s vengeance on people. However, Jesus did not come bearing wrath, vengeance or judgment on the world. At least not yet. Jesus came to proclaim the good news that He was going to set us free and to release us from captivity and oppression. In this reading, Jesus proclaims that this is the season of the Lord’s favor. This means no punishment or vengeance upon us right now. We are in a time of forgiveness, grace, and mercy, as long as we are humble and contrite.
Will the day of judgment come? Yes, in the future when Jesus returns. Our God fair and just. God did not create mankind so He could watch us stumble around this world in darkness, forsaking us. God created us out of love and for a purpose. We are His children and we are a part of Him. We were born of His spirit and nothing can change that. We are the children of a loving and merciful Father who would stop at nothing to set the captives free!
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
God is like that jar of oil that never ran dry. He can never run out of love for us. He needs no excuse to love us. God is love. Outside of God, love would not even exist. It is so easy to get into a punishment mindset. The devil would have us believe everything bad that happens is a punishment from God. The truth is, we have free will and we have to bear the consequences of that free will. Each free will choice of one person’s sin affects a multitude of others.
Could God protect us from everything bad or evil? Sure, but then we are missing the point of love. Are we willing to love our God with the same unconditional love He has for us? Are we willing to continue to trust and worship Him, even in the midst of our pain and confusion? Or are we going to turn on God and instead believe the worst about Him? Will we believe that every act of God’s love and sacrifice becomes worthless in the face of pain and fear?
We have to be willing to truly love and sacrifice our lives to God. We have to be willing to believe He is the Father that rejoices in us no matter what, and who would do anything to bring us closer to Him. The devil is a liar and he has been twisting the truth since Adam and Eve. If he could convince those who walked with God daily to turn on Him, how much easier has it been to turn us away as well? Following Christ is a choice, it’s not a feeling.
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
That means, when feelings of fear or desperation take hold, we take hold of the Truth. We don’t listen to the lies that we are bad and need to be punished. We listen to the truth. We are in the last days, and instead of living in fear of God, we need to rejoice in this time of His favor. We need to rejoice that our transgressions are covered by the blood of the Lamb and trust in Jesus to sanctify us. We must give ourselves over to the process of it, and know that while we make mistakes and sin, we can be forgiven.
Does this mean we should keep on sinning or not care about how we live our lives? Absolutely not. We must always be willing to hear when we have strayed or fallen prey to sin. We must live a life of humility and repentance daily, seeking God and learning how to walk that narrow path. Even though we are in a time of God’s favor, that is not a license to sin. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
If the Apostle Paul can be forgiven for trying to tear down Gods church, then we can certainly be forgiven. Being righteous has nothing to do with behavior and everything to do with our heart. A humble heart is the key to God’s gift of grace, which He gives freely to those who love Him. Jesus tells us what a righteous life looks like in Matthew 5:3-12. We have to stop agreeing with the devil that we need to be punished and that God is angry with us, and start agreeing with Gods truth instead.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.