Is Suffering Punishment For Our Sins?
Question: When a person encounters multiple, continual events of torment and suffering in their life, is it punishment for their sins? Or is their another reason (book of Job)?
Name: Brandon T. Ward
Answer: Thank you for the question Michael.
When bad things happen in life, it is common for people to wonder if God is punishing them for something they did. We are going to talk about that from several different angles. While it is true that God punishes those He loves, just because someone has a difficult life does not mean God is punishing them, (Proverbs 3:12).
I also want everyone to remember, for those who love God and live by His Word, He is always there guiding us, it does not mean life will be perfect though, (Isaiah 58:11-12).
The Lord Punishes Those He Loves
We are going to turn to Hebrews 12 and we need to understand “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”, (Hebrews 12:2).
Christ endured a lot of punishment, for no reason, other than to redeem us from our sins.
Understanding the thought, please turn with me to,
3 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
We are covering this so we understand we are not to become weary and faint in our body, mind and soul. We are to consider Jesus Christ, consider how he was punished by the world of sinners for no just cause.
4 “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
We may have problems in life, but we have not shed blood by pushing against the sinful world as Christ did.
5 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:”
The Scripture is telling us, some of the people had forgotten the “exhortation” (Strong’s: G3874) which is the “comfort” of the Word. Due to that, we are told they were not to despise the “chastening” (Strong’s: G3809) which is “disciplinary correction” from the Lord.
Neither are they to faint, and melt away when they are corrected by God.
This applies to all of us, even today.
6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
The Lord loves those who love Him. So if you have gone astray, God may, I said may, provide “disciplinary correction” to bring you back inline.
When you read the word “chasteneth” everyone thinks about lots of horrible things. But the word “chasteneth” (Strong’s: G3811) means,
to train up a child, that is, educate, or (by implication) discipline (by punishment): – chasten (-ise), instruct, learn, teach.
Notice, this ‘chastizing’ is going to be an educational experience from God to the one being corrected, (Psalms 94:12). It is going to be a teaching lesson to instruct the person how to get back on track. It will be clear and understood. God does not teach and leave one wondering what the lesson was about.
7 “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”
If this applies to us, then we need to man or woman up and take our lumps from God. Learn our lesson, understand our lesson, understand where we went wrong, get back on track and stay there.
We Are Rewarded By Our Works
It is important to remember that we are rewarded by our works, and the Lord is going to dish out these rewards, (Colossians 3:24).
Please turn with me to,
25 “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Notice, the people who did wrong in this life will be rewarded for it.
Trust me, you do not want these negative rewards. But even these negative rewards will be given on Judgement Day, not in this age of flesh, (Matthew 16:27).
Not Everyone Is Punished
Now what we covered in Hebrews is what can happen, it does not mean it will happen. You have to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father for Him to apply that correction. You have to love Him and give Him time.
You do not need to be some preist or pastor, but you need to love God and follow His Law. Remember, the whole point was for the Lord to provide you with an educational experiance that will get you back on track. We all slip up from time to time, okay, God knows that, and that is why He helps those who love Him.
Our Choices Define Our Life
Some of our suffering stems from bad health. Maybe it is bad genetics, chance or our eating habits and lack of excercise. Other suffering arises from financial reasons to family problems and you can add a million more items to this list.
However, that does not nessesarily mean we did something wrong, or that God is punishing us. We have to analyze our own situation and be honest with ourself to identify the problem.
While no one wants to hear this, life is life, and most of the time, we tend to bring on our own problems. We just never want to admit when we are wrong, because that is admitting we failed.
I recall many years ago people crying about their problems in life and saying why is God testing me now?
What have I done?
I am a good person, I could be doing much worse.
In the end, the people were not doing good by God. They truly loved God, but they did not follow His Word. They were mixed up in the world, and never gave God a thought until their world came crashing down, over and over again.
Did God punish them?
How can I be so bold to say such a thing?
The problems these people encountered were brought about by their own hands.
- If you do not work, you do not eat, (2 Thessolonians 3:10).
- If you hang around bad people, their ways will overtake you, (1 Corinthians 5:11, Proverbs 13:20).
You do not have to be a scholar to figure those things out. Those are words of advice from God to you. Take them or leave them, the choice is yours.
Other Peoples Choices Can Impact Our Life
While some people were blessed with great parents, other people were not. There are millions of people who suffer depression and other phychological issues from their childhood due to their parents mistreating them as children.
Children do not deserve bad parents, but unfortunatly, it happens in life and this can leave lasting scares when these children grow into adults.
God gave us free will, but this free will means other peoples free will can affect our own. A person may decide to commit a crime that affects our life:
- And the list goes on.
Did God send these things into your life?
I hope you never say He did, that would be saying God sent a burden, and God does not send burdens, nor does He have thoughts of evil toward you, (Jeremiah 29:11).
No matter what life throws at you, you hang tough and stay true to God and you will be rewarded. Our Heavenly Father will make up for all of the bad that you have gone through, that is a promise from the Lord, (Deuteronomy 30, Job 42:10, Joel 2:25).
I do want everyone to remember, no matter what you are dealing with in life,
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
If you love God, and are giving Him time, and you are doing your best to live by His Word, then this verse applies to you.
When life is throwing every bad thing your direction, God will make a way for you to escape that temptation. It may take some time, but you pray about it, then you look at your life and look at the decisions you have made in life and try and do better. See where you can improve, ask the Lord for help, and do better by God, yourself and your family.
Always remember, God sends educational experiances, God does not send burdens, (Jeremiah 23:32-40).