Many of us fear God in an unhealthy way. We picture Him as this huge being waiting for us to make a wrong move and then crushing us at His will. We are afraid of God, but we are more afraid to be without Him. We kind of feel like we are just going to have to go through life enduring all kinds of beatings until life is finally over and we find ourselves in Heaven. That is far from the relationship God wants to have with you.
God may discipline you, but discipline is different than punishment. If you have children, do you discipline them? When you do, do you love them less? No, the reason you discipline them is because you love them so much. You are trying to teach them through that discipline. We see in Hebrews chapter 12, starting in the second half of verse 5, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
As you can see from this portion of Scripture, God loves us and treats us as His own children. And as His children, sometimes we need to be corrected or redirected. The word chasten in this instance means to educate, instruct, teach. This verse is telling us the chastening is for our benefit. It also informs us that every single person who God receives as His own is chastened at some time. Every single one of us. But God once again confirms that He does it out of love. I would be a lot more worried if God didn’t chasten me at times!
We all know what happens to children who have no discipline. As hard as discipline is, it is absolutely necessary for integrity. As it says in the verse above, this discipline results in training and yields righteousness. God is training us because of His love for us. Parents who don’t care about their children just let them do what they want to do, and the results are disastrous. So yes, sometimes God has to correct us, not punish us, but He only does this to make us better Christians.
Now that does not mean that your illness is God correcting you for something you have done wrong? Only God and you know if your illness is associated with chastening from the Lord. Do not let others tell you that God is punishing you for something you have done. Other people do not know your relationship with God. He does not get angry with his children and punish them. Jesus already took our punishment for everything we did wrong! (Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”) Although this subject needed to be addressed, illness and chronic pain are not always the result of discipline from God. We will look at this more in future posts.