Does Harm Come to Teach Us Lessons? Part 2

Table of contents for Does Harm Come

  1. Does Harm Come to Teach Us Lessons? Part 1 of 2
  2. Does Harm Come to Teach Us Lessons? Part 2

Reading Level: Gratifying

There is no doubt that extended illnesses, situations of extreme stress, and tragedies change us forever. Though we can become better people depending on how we handle them, that alone is not proof that God caused the hardships.

My parents were in a severe auto accident during the past year. The police officers and EMT’s at the scene, the doctor who operated on my mother, all told us that it was a horrible accident and that they should have been dead or completely paralyzed. We all were forced to grow in our faith and character by all the experiences we had never been through before. I grew weary of the well-meaning people who told my parents, “I hope you’ve learned what God wanted you to learn.”

There is a common illustration in Christendom which I refer to as the “broken leg heresy.” It is an enormous discredit to the nature and character of God.

Much of it stems from a book that someone wrote years ago comparing the nature of God to the habits of a nomadic, Middle Eastern shepherd. A shepherd’s crook is used to pull sheep back away from danger; however, this book stated that it was a common practice for a shepherd to break the leg of a sheep if it was unusually prone to wandering into danger. Here are the issues with such an idea:

  1. To apply this concept to a person’s misfortune is to make a type of character judgment that Scripture does not allow us to make; we do not know all the thoughts and motives of a person’s heart.
  2. This concept of a broken leg as corrective discipline came from a leisure book, not from Holy Scriptures.
  3. Only 3 times in the Old Testament and in 1 chapter in the New Testament does God refer to Himself as a shepherd. In contrast, there are hundreds of references in Scripture to God as a Father. This is the primary image God chooses to convey His nature.

Since the primary, earthly image God chooses to convey His nature is of a father, one must realize that there are more accurate comparisons there than with a shepherd.

The only comparisons God Himself draws from the shepherd analogy in Scripture are that He: watches over us, rescues us, searches for the lost, binds up the injured and weak (no breaking of legs here!), sacrifices His own life for the sheep’s safety, will not abandon us during danger, and that His sheep know and follow His voice (Jer. 31:10; Ez. 34:12,16; Jn. 10:1-18).

In contrast, when God uses the father analogy of Himself, He does speak of disciplining His children, but He also says that He is a far better father than any earthly parent (Lk.11:11-13), which should be obvious since God is perfect (Matt. 5:48). However, what good earthly parent would break the leg of his child as a form of correction? That would be abuse. It is opposite to the nature and character of God to attribute abusive behavior by Him toward those He loves. Since God’s fatherhood is far superior to the best earthly parent, clearly God would not bring physical harm on the children that He loves with unfailing love any more than the best earthly parents would.

We become stronger people by properly dealing with illness or tragedy. Our healing and growth will be increased and enhanced as we remove harmful, non-scriptural traditions contrary to God’s nature and replace them with the truth from descriptions of Himself.

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