Discipline and punishment. One is meant to teach and uplift. The other is retribution for a previous offense. Although they are different in definition, I often I see us muddy our understanding of these distinctly different actions when we are suffering. Let’s be clear on one thing from the start: “God brings beauty from the ashes. But He doesn’t cause the ashes.”
Consider Job. Job’s three friends were stating that God was disciplining him even thought this was NOT what was happening with Job. Bildad was absolutely convinced that God was the one who had brought all of the calamities into Job’s life to shake him up and to show him what a sinner he was. But we can clearly see, not only in the book of Job, but in all of scripture, God does not bring bad things into our lives to turn us around. Bad things come about for two general reasons: 1) We have chosen to walk away from God’s blessings and protection; or 2) as in Job’s case, Satan is trying to separate us from God by discouraging us with the crises he brings.
We have to be very conscious of what we believers are telling people when we say that the problems/crises/tragedies in a person’s life are brought upon people because God is disciplining them. It causes people to question why God would take their loved ones from them through tragedy or disease, why God is causing them pain, or why God is bringing great loss into their human experience. It repeats the heretical view of God as presented in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
God definitely rebukes and disciplines, but Scripture shows us that He does not do so by bringing pain and loss into our lives. That is what Job’s three friends believed fervently, but fortunately we have chapters 1 & 2 of Job to show us that it is Satan is the one who brings this into our lives, not God.
When hardships come…we need to remind ourselves of this important truth: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:11&12)
Keeping the faith,