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Chosen, Not Punished

Have you ever believed a lie, even while knowing it was a lie? I know that God doesn’t punish his children, even when we sin. Yes, we deserve judgement, but that has already been paid in full at the cross. Yes, there are often consequences of our sins, and sometimes those consequences don’t feel good at all, but consequences are different from punishment. Consequences are something we have brought on ourselves, or on others, by our actions or in-actions. And yes, the Bible tells us that God will discipline us, something we are told to welcome. But again that is different from punishment, and it’s always done for our good and to help us grow spiritually.

So why am I regularly tempted to believe the lie that my infertility is somehow God punishing me for something?

I know that God is good, that he loves me, I even know that he grieves my pain alongside me.

Yet I confess that sometimes I have believed the lie, and I’ve hated God for it.

Lies

Partly I think it comes down to the wonky and quite frankly dangerous way that we can read Scripture. Deuteronomy 28 says “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock…”

And later in verse 15 it continues “However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving¬† you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you. You will be cursed in the city and in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed…”

So am I cursed for not following God’s commands?

We also have to remember the words of the New Testament. Paul wrote to the Galatians in chapter 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”, so that in Christ Jesus the bless of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Set Free by the Cross

Jesus set me free from the weight of trying to follow the law – which is a good job as quite frankly if obeying the whole law was a prerequisite for having children, humanity would have died out long ago!

Nevertheless, we can very easily equate blessings with a sign of God’s favour and difficulties as a sign of his displeasure. Yet, in fact we are promised trials and persecutions if we want to live a godly life! See 2 Timothy 3:12 and Mark 10:30 if you want to read that for yourself!

Chosen, Not Punished

When I was praying about this last weekend a friend said, “Helen, you’re not punished, you’re chosen. That doesn’t make it easier, but …”

That resonated with me, and in fact confirmed a few other things that I’ve been reflecting on recently. I knew she was right. I am chosen, not punished.

Chosen by God

We know that John the Baptist was chosen – but he probably didn’t appreciate having his head chopped off! Yet he had faithfully done what was asked of him, and had successfully prepared the way for Jesus’ coming.

Ruth lost her husband and had to leave her home, and yet God had chosen her to be a direct ancestor of Jesus.

Paul was imprisoned, Peter crucified, Stephen was stoned and the list goes on.

Were all these individuals punished? Or were they chosen?

Another verse we often misread or misuse is Romans 8:28. It says “We know that in all things God works for the good to those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Our good is not comfort, nor success, nor children. It is the furthering of His purpose through us!

Called To The Desert Road

I’m not John, or Ruth, or Paul or Stephen – but I am Helen, and God has chosen me to live out his purpose – just like he has chosen you for your purpose. We are chosen, not punished.

Maybe my purpose is to encourage others on a similar journey. To remind all of us experiencing childlessness that God hasn’t forgotten us. Maybe it is to show that God still does miracles and I will one day celebrate becoming a Mum. Maybe it’s so that I can open my home to those who need a place to stay, to be available at times or places which would be impossible if we had children.

Maybe God has something else in store for me – but whatever my purpose is or purposes are, God has chosen me and he is with me every step of the way, and I am grateful for that.

Philip was someone else who was called to a desert road. The song Desert Road by Casting Crowns, along with this time of reflection helped inspire a sermon a gave recently. You can watch that here too!

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