Does God really punish His people? Well, the answer is “yes”, but the correct term for it is “discipline”. God disciplines those He considers His children just like our biological parents would punish us every time we did something wrong.
Hebrews 12:6-7 tells us, “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 have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
If God punishes you, it is not because He hates you. Instead, He only wants to correct your mistakes and help you improve your character. Remember, you are a child of a holy King.
So, how would you know if God is punishing you? You can check out the following signs.
1. Your wrongdoings are exposed.
God is love, but He is also just. Therefore, even if He loves you, He will not tolerate your sins. One of the ways through which He will discipline you is by exposing your mistake. It may cost you your relationship with other people or other things valuable to you, but justice needs to be served.
Have you ever tried to hide a mistake, but you still got busted in the end? Instead of blaming God for the chaos, you need to accept your fault humbly. It may be painful but thank the Lord because He did not let you be a prisoner of a horrible past. At least, the truth sets you free from the guilt.
2. You suffer from the consequence of what you did.
Another sign that God is disciplining you is you get to pay the price of your actions. Again, I repeat, God is just. He may be merciful and compassionate, but He makes sure that justice will be served. For this reason, even if you repent from what you did, still, you cannot escape the consequences of your mistakes.
Do not feel bad if God lets you suffer for your sins, even if you have already asked for forgiveness. It is not that God is cruel. However, He is a God of order, and He does not tolerate sins. Look at David, for instance. He was “the man after God’s own heart”, but when he committed adultery and murder, God punished him for them. Yet, God did not unlove David.
3. You are haunted by guilt.
Do you feel tortured by guilt over a mistake you did? Guilt is one of the most uncomfortable feelings that you could experience. It can make you feel worthless and ashamed. Furthermore, too much guilt would make you realize that it is better to be the recipient of pain than its cause.
Guilt is one way of God’s punishment. You may not feel its physical presence, but it can be worse since it is gnawing inside you. It will stay until you have paid for your mistake and you have been forgiven by those you hurt. It may seem harsh, but that is justice’s price.
4. What you did backfire at you.
Another sign of God’s punishment is when the bad you did to harm others got back to you. Instead of successfully harming the one you hate, your plan hurt you in the process. Have you ever experienced something like this?
Yes, God loves you, but He loves other people too. He does not play favorites. He does not take sides and will avenge those who others have wronged. That is why the Lord is never pleased when you try to harm others. He will let you pay for it.
5. You go back to zero.
One of the worst punishments is having to step down from your current success level. It applies to any area—career, relationship, ministry, or influence. One mistake can cause you everything, so you have to be mindful. For instance, if you cheat on your partner, you lose their trust and might even lose the relationship. Or, at work, if you are caught involved in illegal transactions, you will surely lose your job.
Of course, this is part of sin’s consequence, and God will have to let you go through it. However, if you repent entirely of what you did, God will help you get back up again. It may take a long time, but if you choose to do what is right this time, you can recover from your loss.
6. You are being humbled.
God’s discipline is meant to humble and transform you. Many sins are brought by pride, and the Lord does not want His children to be overcome by it. Therefore, do not be surprised if He punishes you whenever you struggle with pride. He just wants to humble you.
For example, you could be so proud of your intelligence that you belittle others’ capability. God does not like this at all. As the Scripture says in Philippians 2:3,
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”
As a result, God may allow you to experience failure in front of those people you look down on.
7. The discipline causes you repentance.
Did a negative experience cause you to regret your wrong actions and recommit yourself to God? If yes, it is a sign that you have been punished for discipline. God wanted you to reflect on your wrongdoings, so He let you pass through trials that would make you admit your mistakes.
Remember, whenever God punishes you, it is to correct your wrong beliefs and actions. The ultimate goal is to discipline you. For this reason, He is happy whenever He sees you learning from your mistakes. He only wants you to be wiser and more mature.
8. It leads you to change.
Of course, repentance without effect is useless. The only way to see if the discipline works are through the person’s transformation. If after committing a mistake you suffer from it, but you, later on, change for the better, it means you went through a process of God’s discipline.
If this is your case, be thankful to the Lord for what you went through. Do not see the process as a punishment but simply as a disciplinary action to make you better. Of course, you should do your best never to go back to your old self anymore. Stick to the lessons you have learned from your past failures.
How to Respond to God’s Discipline
God punishes you because He does not tolerate any sin, and He wants you to be a better person. It is all about discipline. But, of course, no discipline is easy and comfortable. For this reason, expect that when God disciplines you, there is pain with it.
However, instead of hating God for the discomfort that comes with your ‘punishment’, you better repent and ask forgiveness for your mistakes. Humble yourself before the Lord and allow Him to transform your character. If you do not give up, you will be thankful for its result in your life someday.
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