Every one of us is confronted with life circumstances that compel us to ask these questions, or something like them. Every time something bad happens to me, I wonder if there's something I'm being punished for. I remember a few times, pounding my desk and yelling at God, "Why aren't you helping me?" If you've ever asked these questions, you may find some comfort in this article...or not.
Trouble Doesn't Equal Punishment: Let's start with, you're a lot closer to God than you think, or you wouldn't be asking these questions. In my experience as a minister since 1991, Christians don't have "la-di-da" lives, though most act like they do. The devil will use those actors to make you feel like something's missing from your spiritual walk...or to make you question God. I remember when I was younger, comparing my life to the other Christian lives around me and wondering why everybody else was always smiling...what's wrong with me? I've had several times when I'd rather die than face the troubles I was having...even shook my fist at heaven and asked Him to kill me. After counseling hundreds of those smiling faces, I can tell you the smiles come off behind closed doors. Jesus said "it rains on the just and the unjust, alike." A great many people get Hindu and Christian theology mixed up, thinking, if something goes wrong in my life, God's punishing me or at least indifferent to me...thinking God won't care about me until I've earned it. Jesus said God loves you whether it's raining or not. Paul made it even more clear and personal when he said God's love and mercy were gifts that none of us could earn. If anyone tells you God will protect you from problems, if you're dedicated or holy enough, they (not you) have a lot of growing up to do. Read Hebrews chapter 11 all the way through, then ask yourself, "What is the evidence of these people's faith in God?" Is it that God saved them from trouble or that they followed God despite the trouble?
Problems Help Us Focus And Grow: Here's the deal...God never promised to help us avoid problems. In fact, Jesus promised we'd have more problems in this World because we followed Him. Isn't He faithful? But, He also promised to restore whatever we lost on His account, to be with us through it all, and to bring us into eternal glory with Him. You've probably seen evidence of His faithfulness through past problems. If you're like me, even though you have trouble now, you can look back and see where you've gotten through problems you didn't think you could...or didn't think you should. If you couldn't or shouldn't, Who do you think got you through? What I finally got, about my walk with God, was that God wants to take my failures, problems, losses and weaknesses, along with my successes, and teach me things through them. Through my problems, He's teaching me to ask "What do you want me to learn from this, Lord?" and "Help me see how you're working in this." Through my enemies, He's teaching me to forgive. Through my sin and failure (yes, even now), He's teaching me the depth of His mercy. I've learned I'm the reason His mercy is new every morning. In a way, our problems force us to become more dependent upon God. That's where our true strength is, and how we learn of His great power and love for us. When you ask God, 'Why me?' Maybe His answer is, 'Because I love you so much, I want you to be able to see it and know my love is with you no matter what happens.' Trouble shouldn't make us feel like we're further from the Lord, they should bring us closer to Him.
Trouble Brings Us Closer To God: For a long time, I had trouble
understanding why Paul (while in a Roman prison) could write to the
Philippians (who were being killed and put in jail) and tell them to
rejoice and present their requests to God with thanksgiving. (Php
4:4-7) Our relationship with God isn't reflected in a lack of
trouble. Instead, it's strengthened through trouble. That's why we
can thank God even for our trouble. Paul explains that our
sufferings reveal and confirm our intimacy with Christ and the
promise of His glory (Rom 8:16-18). So, the next time the devil
uses your trouble to tell
you you're not good enough for God, tell him, "You're right! I
never will be. That's how much God loves me, that Jesus made it
possible for me, anyway." (Jn 3:16-17) The next time the devil
wants you to focus on how bad and unfair your life is, force yourself by faith
to pray, "Thank you, Lord, for these problems. Help me learn and
grow closer to you through them." Because...
Trouble doesn't reflect God's punishment...it reveals His love.