Is God Punishing Me?
“What’s on your mind today, Jack?” I say, as the therapy session begins. His sullen, weather-worn face frowns beneath his Vietnam cap.. Having limped down the hall, cane in hand, Jack slumps in his chair.. “I’m nervous. I can’t sleep. I’m afraid I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.” Burdened with an ill wife, and his recent heart attack, his eyes well with tears. “I believe God is punishing me for the way I’ve treated her for 51 years.” Jack believes his bitterness and resentment toward his wife, for her youthful affairs, caused her current hospitalization and his heart failure. As a minister, he suffers with sin and guilt. We talk about forgiveness. We talk about his faith. I say, “God isn’t punishing you. You’re punishing yourself with negative, destructive thinking.” He listens. He ponders. He shares. He gets up, stands straighter, with his head erect, and smiles, as he leaves the room. He readies himself for a new day.