Our Readers Ask
Are Life’s Adversities Punishment From God?
Has a traumatic event in your life caused you to ask if God intends for you to suffer adversity? A sudden illness, a crippling accident, or an untimely death in the family may make us feel that we are being singled out by God for punishment.
Contrary to such thoughts, you should feel comforted that God wants people to be happy and free from harm. This is seen in the fact that when God created the first humans, he put them in “the garden of Eden,” a parklike paradise, where life would be free of all adversity.—Genesis 2:15.
Regrettably, the first human pair chose to turn their back on this wonderful prospect and willfully disobeyed God. The result was calamitous not only for them but also for all their offspring, including us. Why? The situation can be likened to what results when a family head reneges on his agreement to pay rent—the entire family get evicted from their home and are exposed to hardship and deprivation. Similarly, adversity has become the lot of all humankind since the first rebellion. (Romans 5:12) Many years later, the righteous man Job lamented that if his pain and suffering could be “put on scales,” they would be “heavier even than the sands of the seas.”—Job 6:2, 3.
Another cause for adversity is our limited foresight. For example, imagine that a housing developer built and sold homes in a fire-prone area. Unaware of these facts, you bought one of these homes and lived in it. Would you not be making yourself and your family vulnerable to grave adversities? Any hardship that developed could hardly be viewed as punishment from God, could it? The reality is set out in the Bible: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.”—Proverbs 14:15.
It is comforting to know, however, that although we are all subject to adversity, God has purposed that very soon mankind will be liberated from it. When the time comes, you will never again experience, see, or even hear about adversities. Tears of sadness, pain, death, and mourning will have “passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Also heartwarming is the promise that never again will people build houses and plant crops only to have them destroyed by wars or disasters. Rather, the work of their hands they will “use to the full.”—Isaiah 65:21-25.
While you wait for God to eliminate adversity completely, what can you do now to minimize its effect? First and foremost, “do not lean upon your own understanding,” the Bible admonishes us, but “trust in Jehovah with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5) Look to him for guidance and comfort. Pay attention to the godly wisdom found in the Bible. It will help you to make wise decisions and protect you from those adversities that can be avoided.—Proverbs 22:3.