By Julia Fernandes
Hebrews 12:6 – "The Lord disciplines those he loves."
This is a question I am often asked as to why a good person gets quick punishment for even a small wrong while an evil person seems to get away with many wrongs?
In 2 Maccabees 6:12-16, we are first told that God’s punishments are never meant to destroy but to discipline us, and to be punished immediately is a sign of great kindness from God. It may seem paradoxical, but punishment from God is nothing but love disguised as discipline. God’s love in this form serves to save us from our own selves when we commit wrongs and end up being our greatest enemies.
No person can fully comprehend their sins, follies, hidden faults, mistakes and errors (Psalm 19:12). At any given time we may not know the full implications of what we are doing, since we do not have the full picture. Instant punishment from God saves us from going on the wrong track.
God disciplined me with a cough
Many years back I was sitting in the train trying to sleep. Next to me was a woman who was coughing incessantly almost non-stop. Unable to catch a few winks, I found myself irked with her continuous cough. I angrily thought to myself, “Why is this woman coughing so much? Can she not stop it?”
After around one or two weeks I caught a nasty bout of cold. Whenever I catch a cold, it is the usual body ache, but never a cough. So, this time when I felt sick, I got laid down with a mysterious cough that lasted for a good two months. And like the lady in the train, I would end up coughing persistently.
Each time I had a cough attack I remembered that woman whom I had scorned. Then I realized God read my innermost thought, and did not like my indifference to the pain of that woman.
It was just a passing thought, but even that small tiny passing thought was an error big enough to be repaid with a cough for more than 60 days! And because it was instant within one week, the lesson was unforgettable and profound. The instant karma sensitized me in a marvelous way and worked wonders for the growth of my soul. I became very careful, conscious, sensitive and aware of the people and their trials around me.
The mysterious cough never came back!
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 12:11
Once you learn a lesson and understand the higher purpose of your suffering, your resistance to it is less and the struggle does not come back. Since I knew the reason of my prolonged cough, my resistance to it was low and I was able to accept it with grace. I waited for perseverance to finish its work in me. Had I resented and not accepted the suffering, the lesson (cough) would have been repeated.
Struggles and tests are repeated until and unless you have learnt the lesson and improved yourself. If you can identify some regular pattern of struggle or pain in your life, then there is a spiritual lesson for you to identify, learn and master. Once you figure out the higher purpose of your suffering and allow it to run its course in your life, it will go away just like my cough that never came back!
When should you worry?
You should worry when God has given up on you for there is no greater punishment than when God allows a person to add sin upon sin. The Bible has some spine-chilling accounts of how karma eventually catches up. Karma as in Galatians 6:7 simply means what you sow is what you will reap.
Harsh Biblical karma
Antiochus was a Greek tyrant, king and ruler who persecuted the Jews and outlawed its Jewish traditions. He succeeded in his evil antics for a long time, but eventually had to pay a heavy price for his sins.
In 2 Maccabees 9 we learn that God struck him with an incurable disease. Since he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions, karma dealt him the same fate. He was seized with a pain in his bowels, for which there was no relief, and with sharp internal tortures.
In another example during the same period, Menelaus was a high priest who often profaned the sacred ashes of the altar fire in the Temple. In 2 Maccabees 13 we learn how he was put to death by being thrown down from a high tower filled with ashes. He was not buried but met his death in ashes!
Do not pile up your sins; do not brew fresh karma. Keep your karmic slate clean. God hates even the mildest trace of sin. Be happy and humble whenever you are disciplined instantly by God, for it is a sign of great love and kindness from an ever-loving God.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So, be earnest and repent. Revelations 3:19