I did a Google search for Bible verses about God using punishment to shape us and the search yielded many results. The site bible.knowing-jesus.com showed 73 verses under the heading Punishment, by God. As I reviewed the list I noticed that Galatians 6:7-8 was not listed, nor did I see Proverbs 22:8 either (see below). No wonder when we feel persecuted in our lives, and when we seek counsel from fellow Christians we may hear comments that indicate that we must have done something to deserve this rebuke from God.
I remember a time in which I had a disagreement with a Christian acquaintance over something, and to this very day I still don’t understand her behavior. Her comment to me, was “Perhaps you feel this way because the Holy Spirit is speaking words of conviction to you” in reference to this particular situation. Even now when I hear another Christian display an attitude towards another that resembles a remark like that statement, I am immediately rankled by their holier-than-thou attitude.
We need to remember that when another person is facing dark depressing times of calamity, that our words matter. Yes, I know that our words matter all the time, but during circumstances that we are talking about now, I contend that our words matter even more. I get it, your friend, or loved one, is hurting and needs to make sense of it all. So, you think that you must say something, anything, to make them feel better. Or, to tell them a story about a similar situation that you faced, so that they know that we understand their situation. We may want to impart some glorious words of insight, but it is at precisely those times that we are much better off keeping our mouths shut. I know this from experience – I’ve been on the giving end and the receiving end of those comments, and they really don’t help at all. In fact, many times they make matters worse (as in the case of my “friend” I mentioned above).
What I found to be of the greatest assistance is when someone comes along side of me, and listens to me – really listens to me. They don’t try to solve my problem. They just listen. Perhaps they sit with me. Perhaps they hug me, wipe my tears, or hold my hand. And they pray with me. They pray for a resolution to come, they pray for me to have peace, strength, courage, patience, and wisdom. It’s those kinds of actions that help to settle my soul. And, I try hard to remember these things when I know someone who is going through difficult times.
When I specifically am going through difficult times, and I am knee deep in the mire (or even deeper) there are a few Bible verses that I pull from my “Bible Verse Treasure Vault” and I pray over some, or all of these verses (all ESV, unless otherwise noted):
Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Psalm 40:1-2 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
Psalm 91:4-5 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
Psalm 91:14-15 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
Isaiah 43:2-3a When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 54:17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Verses referenced in the first paragraph:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8, ESV)
“Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.” (Proverbs 22:8, ESV)