When it Looks Like God Is Punishing You
Updated: Jan 25, 2021
What may feel like God punishing you may in fact be God pruning you. Taking away all that you “think matters” and Him showing you the truth of the matter. Mary found out when she was given a promise that led her to be talked about for being pregnant before marriage. She found out when it led her to give birth in a dirty manger and at the foot of the cross watching her son be tortured and murdered. I imagine she wasn’t looking too blessed by those looking on. But of course they didn’t know the truth of the matter, that she was the mother of the Savior. I bet Abraham looked pretty foolish holding on to the promise of a son at the ripe old age he and his wife Sarah were…I can just hear the jokes being made, even Sarah laughed. And how would you handle God giving you the promise only to ask for it back! Wonder how faithful and understanding any of us would be? What about Joseph? He was the apple of his fathers eye and wore a coat of many colors and had a dream of being a ruler. Only to be sold into slavery by his own jealous brothers, thrown into jail unjustly and being used to interpret dreams to help somebody out only to be used and thrown to the side and forgotten about. I bet people were saying “well if God is for him, humph, leave me alone!” Wonder if his brothers would have been willing to suffer what he did to get to where he was going in that dream he dreamed? I bet that dreamer Joseph had some pretty tough nights too, trying to believe in and continue to hold on to that dream. Probably thinking how did I get it so wrong or did I do something to deserve this? No, the truth of the matter is he was being groomed for what was to come. He had the dream right he just wasn’t ready for it yet. He had to take Empathy 101, Honors Humility, Advanced Compassion and pass the final on Love. And of course we have to look at how people perceived Jesus…the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, our Lord and Savior. Wonder how believers and non believers alike saw Him? All bloodied beaten and being led to His death. What were they thinking as they saw this man that some had come to believe in and others despised as He was hanging on the cross. Did they see strength? After all, He sacrificed Himself for our many sins, doesn’t get much stronger than that. Did they see a Savior or were they thinking His God, our God has forsaken Him? But of course they did not know the truth of the matter. For believers it would become clearer but at the time I’m sure to most Jesus didn’t “look” like He was winning. He defeated evil that day but even now people can have a visceral reaction to His name, good and bad…and all He wants is the best for all of us…that’s all.
Does it bother you that you follow Christ and it doesn’t ” look” like you’re winning? Here is the truth of the matter. When you follow Christ and you look like you’re winning there are those that will hate you for it. If you look like you’re failing they will ridicule you for it. The truth of the matter is it doesn’t really matter what others think. God has you in the palm of His hand. Your duty, your purpose, your focus is to do His will by putting one foot In front of the other and trusting Him when you can’t see your feet. It will all work out in the end. That’s faith.
When you read scripture how do you see yourself? Are you Moses leaving behind what looks like all the trappings of success, to do the right thing? Like Moses, after doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, are you trusting Gods prompting and leadership believing that He can still use you in spite of what you may be guilty of? Or are you the grumbling, complaining, ungrateful people being freed from slavery, being asked only to believe but still feeling the need to bow down to idols? Are you the rich young ruler walking away, unwilling to even think of giving up your comfort to follow Jesus. Or are you the disciples who were willing to put their lives on the line. Are you the man by the pool focused on the 38 years that no one would put him in the healing waters? You ready to answer the question…do you want to be healed? You ready to pick up that bed and walk? Are you trusting Jesus or are you one of His skeptics? It’s important for us to see ourselves in scripture and even more important to be truthful with what we see. The good news is no matter where you see yourself Jesus is here for you. To guide you, love you and show you the truth of the matter.
You see the truth of the matter is, at different times in our lives we are all those in scripture, good and bad. Our life’s journey is too become. Become what God has created us to be. He will test us, prune us, groom us and love us into His vision of who we already are. He’s not surprised by us nor turned off by our struggles. He can and does use our life circumstances to help mold and shape us. He doesn’t punish us…Jesus took that punishment willingly upon Himself to settle the matter once and for all. But we live in a fallen world and bad stuff happens. But we are not left without hope and all alone. On the contrary, we have a Savior that gets it. He knows how it feels to be betrayed, laughed at, looked down upon,