Q. I have often felt over the years that God has punished my sins by giving my son a disability. I have been encouraged to believe that this is not true. My question is, didn’t God punish 70,000 Israelites with death because of David’s sin in 1st Chronicles Chapter 21?
A. 1 Chronicles 21 tells of a time when David disobeyed God by numbering the fighting men to determine how many troops he had. This was something a king only did in preparation for war and God had not told David to prepare for war. It was something Satan had put in David’s mind to do. When David realized his sin and asked God to forgive him, God responded with three options from which he could choose a punishment for his sin. He could have 3 years of famine, three months of defeat by his enemies, or three days of plague. David chose 3 days of plague during which 70,000 Israelites died. The lesson is that every sin has to be punished. None can be overlooked.
From Colossians 1:19-20 we learn that God sent His son to die for our sins so He wouldn’t have to punish us each time we sin. In so doing God has made peace with us. And please notice that Paul said God has reconciled to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, not just believers. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). So even if your son was born before you became a believer, his disability was not God’s way of punishing you for your sins.
The bad things that happen to people in this life are due to the fact that we live in a fallen world where there is no direct relationship between cause and effect. Bad things can happen to good people and good things can happen to bad people. In addition the food we eat, the water we drink, the medicine we take, even the air we breathe is contaminated and can bring unintended health consequences for us or our offspring.
The punishment that unbelievers will receive after they die is not due to the fact that God is mad at them. It’s due to the fact that they’ve rejected His offer of peace. With Him there is a direct relationship between cause and effect. Remember, every sin has to be punished. None can be overlooked. We’re all sinners, but it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you accept the Lord’s death as payment in full for your sins you’ll be pardoned. But if you reject His death, you’re in effect telling God that you’ll pay for your sins yourself.