Is God punishing me? Sometimes when people are going through tough times in life, they ask that question.
Actually, I think that most of the time, we bring hard times on our own selves. The hard times we go through are often the natural consequences of what we do. As Paul writes, “You reap what you sow.” (Galatians 6:7)
I do believe that sometimes God brings hard times in our lives when we turn our backs on him. But when God does so, his ultimate goal is to bring good into our lives through the hard times in our lives. That we would turn our backs on our sin, and turn back to him.
And God did bring discipline into Solomon’s life through internal strife (Jeroboam) and external strife (Hadad and Rezon). But look at God’s own words about the discipline he brought into Solomon’s life.
In speaking to David, he said,
I will be [Solomon’s] father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. (II Samuel 7:14-16)
Here God tells David, I will punish Solomon if he gets out of line. But…my love will never be taken from him.
Further, he says in I Kings 11:39,
I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.
I think there’s two things to notice here. First, God disciplines when we sin, but if we repent, he will not hold that sin over us forever.
As David wrote,
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever. (Psalm 103:9)
Second, he will never, ever stop loving us no matter what we do.
Maybe you’re feeling like God’s punishing you for something wrong you did. Maybe he is. But remember that he only disciplines us for our good. Remember that he’s not a vengeful God, just waiting to blast you for every mistake you make or sin you commit. Rather, he loves you. And he only wants the best for you.
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)