Friday, October 29, 2010

Human versus Divine punishment

Does God punish man?

Watching an old movie from the sixties made me reflect something which was brought up recently by some deeply religious people – the wrath of God which is defined as the extreme anger of God. In the story a beautiful young woman from a poor family becomes rich when she marries a rich man. She was so obsessed with her beauty and physical appearance that she looked down on others including her own siblings and parents, who happen to be poor. Her extreme vanity leads to numerous problems that become beyond the tolerance of her family, friends and relatives. Even her own father refused to accept her when she leaves her husband after some argument.

Finally she succumbs to leprosy which disfigures her face thus permanently ending her physical beauty. She was then even despised by her family and not knowing what to do she meets a wise man who takes her into his ashram. He then advises on the wrongs she had done and the hurt she had inflicted onto those who loved her so much. He tells her that there are two ways we are punished for the wrongs we commit against others.

Firstly we will be punished by humans, by those whom we have hurt and by the laws of the land. The second punishment is by God.

The punishment meted out by man can be avoided by repentance and asking for forgiveness from those whom we hurt. God appears to be giving us an opportunity to correct ourselves for the offenses committed against fellow humans. IF we still refuse to repent than there is no way other than God intervening to teach us a lesson that will never be easy to forget, in this case the disfigured face to stop her abusive actions of vanity.

In our own lives we do many good as well as many bad things. It is humanly impossible not to do bad, but what is important is for us to realize our wrongs and take steps to remedy them. When those who are hurt complain we must take them seriously and reflect to see where we had gone wrong. When others disagree with us take them seriously to see why they do so. When others retaliate against what we do to them, reflect to see why they are doing that. Re-examine our conscience to see whether we have gone wrong, if so take steps to correct them. In short we must never insists we are always right and the others always wrong as no one can be human and still be right all the time.

Disagreements, retaliation and abuse both verbal and physical by those we deal with are clear signals from God that we may be doing something wrong and for us to reflect and correct ourselves. If we are still arrogant to ignore all these signs then we will only be inviting the punishment from the Creator to put us in our place.

As humans we may fight among ourselves but we must settle our disputes peacefully with God- given resources at our disposal to avoid divine intervention to solve them. From my 58years of experience I am convinced beyond doubt that God will put us in our rightful place in His own ways and His own time which may be very unpleasant to accept at times.

In our enthusiasm to seek success and comfort, power and wealth, we could have hurt and trampled on many along the way as we think nobody is watching us. We forget there is this invisible force, God who is there always watching what we do and listening to what we say. He even knows what we are thinking and planning to do. We forget Him when we are high and mighty but seek Him when down and out. Often He may seem to be rewarding the bad and punishing the good, but rest assured that He will be there for the good when it matters most.

As Mahatma Gandhi said “God sometimes does try to the utmost those who he wants to bless”.