Does He Punish?
I'm still thinking about class last night and some comments made about God's will.
One class member said that God sometimes sends us trials and that he punishes us. I know that this is a common belief, and who am I to contradict it. It does bring to mind a question, however. Consider this....
We are comfortable with the idea of God punishing us -- and by comfortable, I mean that we think it must be true because we see God as a father. We have children of our own. We know that there are times when it is necessary to discipline them -- even to punish them -- so that they will grow and learn. We consider it to be our responsibility. I don't know about you, but I would not appreciate interference in that "job" of mine.
When G was small -- three, maybe? four? -- we were at a restaurant. He kept standing up in the booth, and, in my mind, annoying the people in the booth next to us. Several times I asked him to sit down. He kept ignoring me. In my experience as G's mom, I knew that if I removed him from the situation and talked to him with firmness and a "mom voice," that his behavior would change. He would "get" that I was serious. This "removal" procedure, to work, had to be sudden, fast, and firm. So I picked him up and carried him out of the restaurant. I was surprised, unhappily, to see that the man from the next booth was following me, trying to convince me that G had not been bothering them, and to stop me from punishing G.
My child. My call to make. I wasn't pleased with the interference.
So consider that. How is it that we think God punishes us? Does he send "bad things" our way? Poverty? Illness? Does he leave us abandoned? Does he desert us?
How would he feel about interference?
If we see someone "down on his luck" or sick or hurting, if we follow this logic, then who are we to interfere with God's punishment? Who are we to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or comfort the hurting? In fact, if God punishes us, then the priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story SHOULD have walked by the injured man on the side of the road. The Samaritan interfered with God's will in helping the man.
Obviously, I don't believe that to be true. I don't believe it because Jesus told us to "go and do likewise" -- to love our neighbors as ourselves.
If that's the case, then either we are to disregard the idea that God might be punishing someone and help them anyway, or perhaps God doesn't punish us. Perhaps God is God, and he has found a better way.
Perhaps he has has found (and teaches us) the most excellent way.
Image: Sunrise this morning.