555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

474. Does God Allow Satan to Punish Us with Sickness?

Do not make the mistake that Job's friends made, of assuming that sickness, trouble, or bereavement may necessarily be punishment. You will find a different theory, not in John only, but in Hebrews. The writer of that epistle says (12:5-11) that chastisement is sometimes to be regarded as a proof of God's love. He evidently regarded it as being inflicted by God, but to be in the nature of discipline and education rather than punishment On the other hand, Paul said his "thorn in the flesh" was the messenger of Satan (II Cor. 127). It does not make much difference to the sufferer whether God inflicts or permits Satan or men to inflict In either case the affliction must be endured, and if it is borne with patience and equanimity, God is pleased, because then the world sees how his children love and honor him. The statement often made that all sickness and affliction are sent as a punishment is not true, but on the contrary, is a hideous libel on God and a cruel outrage on the suf-iferers. Sickness is sometimes a punishment for disregarding the laws of nature, but it is not God's punishment for sin. The book of Job was written to show how false and cowardly was the theory that those worst afflicted were the worst sinners. Job insisted and God confirmed him, that we have no right to infer that the afflicted man has been a heinous sinner. Christ also indignantly repudiated the idea (see Luke 13:2-4, and again John 9:1-3). Sickness often comes as a discipline to develop spirituality, to lead to greater faith and patience and sometimes to give an example of Christ's sustaining power. People have often wondered at the patience and endurance of the afflicted Christian and have gained from the spectacle a deep impression of the power of religion.