And it shall come about when they say, “Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?” then you shall say to them, “Just as you have abandoned Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land that is not yours.” – Jeremiah 5:19
As I read this passage, I was reminded once again that God’s punishment of Israel often matched the magnitude of their sin. Even though they wanted to blame God for every so-called misfortune that they encountered, God often allowed Israel to experience the natural end of their sinful choices. By their actions, Israel indicated that they desired a life apart from God’s intervening presence; therefore, He gave it to them. Since it seemed that they despised His sovereignty, desiring to trade it for non-invasive idols, He would give them full opportunity to do so in a land fully enveloped by foreign gods.
Like Israel, God will often allow us just enough rope with which to hang ourselves. When we become callous to the internal promptings of the Holy Spirit, God will graciously allow us to feel the “pain” of sin’s consequences. This is called chastisement and Christ-followers are (thankfully) not exempt. It is in fact a proof of His covenant love. If we presume upon God’s gracious protection and then expect that protection to extend beyond the consequences of our sinful choices, we may be very surprised, and very sorry.
We are saved by grace and kept by grace, a grace that is truly greater than all our sin. Paul once raised the rhetorical question of whether or not we should sin greatly to reveal the power of God’s favor, then replied to his own fanciful inquiry, “By no means!” God has done so much for us and rather than wonder at the reason behind His discipline, we should ask, “Why would we ever do anything to Him?”
The purpose of God’s discipline is not to punish us but to transform us. – Jerry Bridges