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Something I bump into a lot is this idea that “God hates me, God is punishing me, God has abandoned me.” I am all about a proper pity party, sinking into the misery, and eating worms. Life can be downright pathetic sometimes and it hurts. But all 3 of those statements are likely false and we must be very careful about the words we speak over ourselves and others, especially in times of distress.

So, “God hates me.” Most likely not. He loves us so much He laid down His life for us. Also, most of us lack the power and importance to draw God’s wrath down upon us. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just saying that at best we can disappoint or grieve Him. Earthly parents seldom hate their own children, no matter what they do, and God is an even more perfect parent. God’s love for us is steadfast, patient, understanding, and full of mercy. We may be hating on ourselves, but that is not the nature of the God I know. In fact, the God I know doesn’t like us hating on ourselves at all. We are created in His image. So hating on ourselves is kind of like hating His artwork.

So, “God is punishing me.” That one can get more complicated, because sometimes, yes, but our attitude about it is often all wrong. Discipline is an act of love, not hatred, and it’s actually a benefit, a blessing, a protection. God does not just heap misery upon our heads to make us needlessly suffer. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.”

Do not lose heart, that cannot be said enough. Don’t lament, “God is punishing me,” change it to “God is blessing me.” If you are highly favored, you will be much loved. That’s just the way it is. Don’t lose heart and learn to draw closer to Him.

Also, Job was a righteous man, having the Lord’s favor. God wasn’t punishing him because he was a rotten person or an epic failure. There was none so righteous as Job. Sometimes we are deliberately chosen to face unpleasant things because we really are worthy, because God can trust us with them. It requires some discernment to tell the difference, but God often hides treasures, fruits, blessings within hard times. Don’t ask “why me,” ask why not me? Am I not worthy of what has been set before me? God may not be punishing you at all, He may be blessing you with a great honor.

“God has abandoned me.” That’s a feeling, an emotional state of being. Scripture tells us, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Never. Jesus Christ already experienced that on the cross on our behalf, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” It is finished now. He had victory. Often when we feel as if God has abandoned us, it is our own selves that have pulled away. We have created that separation, not God. He is always with us, waiting with open arms. Set down the things that separate you from Him at His feet and He will draw closer.

Suffering can be a complex issue, but it often serves a vital purpose. It’s kind of sad that we in the Western world have created this culture that suggests if I am good, I will get only good things, therefore all suffering must be bad or someone else’s fault. I wish we’d flip that narrative around. For all I know, God in His infinite mercy has given some guy a private plane and a red Ferrari, because that is the only joy that man will ever know… for all of eternity.

Think about that. There are treasures that some of us have acquired through suffering that others will never be blessed to experience. It is often in our brokeness and suffering that God shines so brightly, that His powerful presence can be felt and known. That’s a priceless gift.