One Ministry, One Church, One Message Worldwide
The world has gone to extremes to twist and distort our perception of what we think God is like, and many people have been afraid of Him their entire lives. A popular notion among many is that He’s an angry, vengeful God, ready to strike us down when we sin and make mistakes. Because of that mindset, they attribute to God the bad, painful things that happen to them in life, erroneously assuming that those are His ways of punishing them for something they did wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When God made us, He gave everyone the freedom to make their own choices in life, but sometimes we make bad choices. When our decisions don’t lead to the results we want, it’s easy to blame God, but we fail to realize that other factors operating are the devil, the world’s influences, and our own self-centeredness. Just like our earthly parents, God wants to console and comfort us when we’re hurting. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NKJV).
God doesn’t want us to suffer, but He uses those times to develop our character and strengthen us. During life’s most painful times, emotionally it may seem like we’re in the desert. But God promises He not only will never leave us, but He’ll carry us when we can’t go on. “And in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place” (Deuteronomy 1:31, NKJV).
Some people are as stubborn as Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, and they steadfastly refuse to believe God’s purpose isn’t to punish. These people have forgotten that out of His love and mercy, He sent us His only Son to show us how to live. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17, NKJV).
The concept of punishment involves fear and condemnation, which was a common theme in the Old Testament. When we accept and believe in what Jesus did for us on the cross, we become God’s own children, whom He loves too much to punish. “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (Hebrews 12:5-7, NKJV).
Some things are beyond our control. Trials like a bad doctor’s report, an unforeseen accident, or the death of a loved one, can seem to jump out at us from nowhere. God is the Master at turning those situations around and bringing forth good from evil. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV). When we have faith in this promise, we can overcome life’s trials, come out stronger for it, and have the ability to help others we see struggling in the same situation.