Is God punishing me? Maybe this is all my fault. The mind can replay a looping slideshow of all the possible reasons for why you deserve your anguish. Because, truth be told, finding someone to blame offers some solace; even if the finger is pointed at you. Unfortunately, feelings of guilt can be a terrible plague for those who have suffered a life changing injury. Thankfully, there is hope for those wrestling with the question of “What did I do to deserve this?”
If you feel like what you’re going through is God’s punishment…you’re not alone. Many people’s thoughts go here when trying to figure out the “why?” There are a few things we can examine to determine if there is any validity to this. And from what I’ve seen over many years of counseling people, it’s not likely your fault.
When we see God bring judgment in the bible, He first gives warning. Countless passages in the Bible (namely in the Old Testament) share how God tells people to change their ways. He warns them that if they do not, they will suffer a consequence. God doesn’t usually jump straight to discipline. He desires to bring about a changed behavior or heart. Because of this, He mercifully gives us warning so we can take right action.
Did God warn you about something you were doing or not doing? Did some verses in the bible speak to you about sin? Did God send someone to you to address your behavior or choices? Remember Noah and the flood! For years, Noah preached to the wicked people, warning them of the coming judgment (2 Peter 2:5). If you haven’t gotten a warning from God, then don’t plague yourself with the question of “What did I do to deserve this?”
Another way that God operates with His people is through direct conviction. John 16:8 says this about the Holy Spirt, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…” If you are a born-again Christian, then God dwells in you so that you can know right and wrong. This is especially useful in all the little moral nuances of daily life.
Did the Holy Spirit convict you about any habitual sin? And yes, you would KNOW that God is convicting you. When God brings the conviction spotlight, the feeling is inescapable. It’s like a feeling of guilt and a knowledge of what you should do differently. If this happens to you, don’t ignore it. And, if you sincerely respond to any convictions He gives, then you shouldn’t wrestle with the question, “What did I do to deserve this?”
There were some of Jesus’ disciples who saw a blind man and they asked Him who’s sin caused the blindness. Jesus responds with, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3). Bottom line, terrible things happen to even the best of people. Don’t assume that your pain and suffering is a judgment from God.
We have an amazingly awesome and powerful God who is completely competent and able to let you know if and why He is disciplining you. Sometimes it’s just this broken world we live in! Remember Job? That was a guy who was considered righteous. However, he had so many terrible things happen to him and his family. If bad things happen to even good people, then you shouldn’t beat yourself up like you did something to cause your present situation.
God desires us to seek Him. Here are some questions for you: Where is your heart for God now? Are you wanting Him to meet you where you are? Are you wanting to wholeheartedly follow Him and press on? Are you beaten down and agonizing that there is something you’ve done and you deserve punishment? Don’t let yourself be robbed! You have an enemy who wants you to feel depressed and wallow in self-pity and misery. Fight it!
Pray to God right now and say, “Lord, my life is yours. I want this to be just the beginning of something truly great. I’m letting go of the past and will press on with you as I walk in righteousness with You as my guide!” Ok, so it doesn’t have to be that exact prayer, but I think you get the point. God is good and wants to work in your pain to bring about something amazing in you and through you. Look up from the darkness around you and you will see Him accomplish His plan. There is hope!
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