Does God Punish People? My Mom Thinks So!



I was wondering if you could help me. My mom is having a really bad time lately since she suffers from various pains (especially now that she is after an operation). Due to this she is often very sad and has a very negative outlook on life. She believes that her whole life is suffering (I admit her life wasn’t easy) and she claims that she believes that God is punishing her (she even said that she might be punished for someone else in her family because a priest told her that this is possible) - that there is no other way she could have such a miserable life. I told her that I don’t believe that God would do anything like that and that the fact that she suffers doesn’t mean that this comes from our loving God. I tried to explain her that suffering is part of this life on the sinful world that that some suffering is not all negative. But I really couldn’t say much about it.

Can you please tell me what to tell my mom if I get into the same debate with her once again?

Thank you very much!
In Christ!

PS: She also told me that she was praying so she would die. :frowning: Is there a teaching against this?
PS2: Please pray for her! She is going through rough times.


A couple of books you can try to find in your library to give to your mom to read, or if not, order from or check your local christian bookstore:

Arise from Darkness: What to Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer: 10 Life-Changing Stories of Hope and Healing also available in audiobook format

It just really helps to have the proper perspective on the crosses we bear.

In the meantime, see if you can meet with your parish priest to seek his advice, perhaps have him come visit her at the house.


Thank you YinYangMom. Here is a problem, my mom doesn’t speak English (let’s say you can consider me as an international member). I will try to look for a translation but it might not exist.

I guess right now I would prefer someone to tell me what to say in such a situation.

As far calling her priest and speaking with him about it, I’m not sure she would be very happy about it. I think she might even get angry at me if I would speak to other people about it. You know, she isn’t the kind of person that likes confessing her problems to other people…


Has she seen the passion of The Passion of the Christ? Maybe seeing how Our Lord suffered for us all, might help her to bear her cross and offer up her suffering in union with Jesus.

There were many saints that have suffered much and were a good example of bearing it heroically, like St. Therese of Lisieux.

I will pray for her also. God bless.


One can look at suffering from more than one perspective. God certainly has the power to punish us if he so desired, but I think that most suffering comes about merely because we are human. Our bodies and our minds are often prone to illness and even some very Holy people suffer in this world. I believe God allows some of us to have the privilege of sharing in the suffering Jesus underwent during his passion and death. Through the joining of our suffering with his Jesus is able to bring good to others; good which we will never be able to see until we arrive in heaven with him. I truly believe that suffering accepted in this way can be a very positive thing in our lives. If nothing else it helps us to relate to the suffering Jesus went through for each and every one of us. Suffering accepted and offered up to the Lord brings us much closer to him. We realize how much we need him just to get through some days. Better, I believe, than those who have lives of ease and see no need for the Lord in their lives. Suffering can be the very key that opens the door to holiness. I will pray for your mother.:slight_smile:


In a nutshell these books help the faithful recognize suffering as a gift - a special invitation from Christ Himself - for us to join Him intimately along the road to Calvary. We become Simon of Cyrene, so to speak. It is a great honor to be of service to the Lord in such ways. Not so great an honor that any of us would wish it upon another, of course, but an honor should we happen to know anyone who has been so chosen by God to share in His redemptive suffering.

As AnthonyM2 noted, a viewing of the Passion of the Christ may very well be a good place to start. I believe that DVD is in many languages so that should help your mother.

Once she witnesses the cross Jesus had to bear - for her, for you, for us - if you can help her to understand that her own pain and suffering is not punishment, but a calling from Jesus to her personally, to join Him, she may be able to shake this image of punishment from her mind.

You say she prays for death. This is because she is afraid of what she is going through, it frightens her. She cannot see all the good she can do with her suffering for others - particularly anyone she knows and loves who has died before her and may be in purgatory. She feels alone and abandoned, much as Jesus probably did when everyone ran away as he was taken away to be scourged. But Jesus knew He was not alone. Your mother is not alone. She is right beside Jesus in His passion. He will be with her through anything she is experiencing. She needs to be able to feel His presence in her pain so that she will find comfort in it. If death is in her near future, all the more reason for her to use this time she has to embrace the Cross with Jesus by her side so that the most good may come from this journey of theirs.

JPII said: “The springs of divine power gush forth precisely in the midst of human weakness. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others.” (*Salvifici Doloris, 27)

*Jeff Cavins and Matthew Pinto, in their introduction to the “Amazing Grace” book wrote:

*When our lives are joined with Christ, we change.
Every aspect of our life is changed, even our suffering.
The suffering actually becomes redemptive, and we participate with Christ in redeeming the world.
Once we discover meaning in our suffering, we gain a key to spiritual treasures, both in our earthly life and in the life to come.
We obtain a wisdom that enables us not only to survive but to thrive, even while adversity continues.
The book then presents, in the words of those interviewed, stories of suffering and how these people came to recognize the redemptive value of their experiences. Some of these stories are:[LIST]
*]a dedicated Catholic deacon who was falsely accused of fraud and spent 2 1/2 years in prison
*]a woman who watched her husband and daughter get swept out to sea
*]a cheerleader who battled breast cancer and a husband’s drug addiction
*]a woman who suffered a near-fatal head-on collision with an 18-wheeler
*]a family whose 11 year old daughter was murdered on her paper route
*]a woman born with a severe handicap and faces a lifetime of serious disability
*]a renowned Catholic convert who suffered for more than 30 years with debilitating migraines
*]a woman who lost nine children through miscarriage and has endured numerous other physical maladies[/LIST]The book is not published in other languages. But it may help her to know that there are people who have experienced her pain and then some who were able - with the grace of God - to find Jesus in those experiences to such an extent that they were able to find peace in the pain and share their stories to help others get through their pain.

You can offer her hope. If she desires to be like these people, then maybe she’ll invite a priest into her home to teach her how.


God sure does punish us–but like a Father it is for our good:

Heb. 12:5 And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him. 6 For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. 9 Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live? 10 And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification. 11 Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.



Suffering is a way of making up for the damage caused by sin (removing temporal punishment?). And one can also offer up his suffering for other people (in purgatory)…I think.

However - I don’t think we should always assume that “God is Punishing Me”. It’s sort of a negative view. Instead look at it as - I have a virus, or a disease. I am suffering. But I will try to accept it in reparation for my sins and those of the whole world.

As for praying that God will end your life - not good. God is the author of life and death and he may have something more planned for your mom.



It might be helpful to read and meditate on the book of Job in the Old Testament. Job was a virtuous and Godly man who lost his family and all of his possessions and asked God: Why? The theory that it was divine punishment for sin was given by his friends, but that was not really the whole story.

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