I don’t know how many of you watch boxing, but each fighter will say a prayer in their corner before the fight. After the fight the winner will give the credit to God during the post fight interview. Personally, I don’t believe God is blessing the winner and punishing the loser.
Deep down, many of us have that mind-set though. When something good happens to us we’re being rewarded for our piety. When hard times come we're being punished by God for our wicked ways.
Heck, when my health took a turn for the worse, in 2016, I felt like I was being punished. Of course, I wasn't, but it took A LOT of prayer to shed that feeling.
I was talking to Pastor Buchanan recently, and he explained, “Hebrew theology also believed God was the cause of everything. If there was a bumper crop, God did it. If there was a famine, God did it to punish. If the Israelites won a battle, it was the right hand of God that won the day. If they lost a battle, God allowed it to happen as a punishment.”
On a surface level it makes sense. God is a just God, therefore we must deserve the things that happen to us. That’s Karma, not the Gospel. In Matthew 5:45 Jesus said point blank, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Think about it. John The Baptist and Peter were pretty pious men, and they both came to pretty horrific ends. One had his head cut off, and the other was crucified upside down.
I’m not saying goodness is always punished, or that God isn't in our corner. I'm simply suggesting that when we go through hard times it's not a reflection of our moral character, nor is it a sign that we’ve been abandoned by God.