By Frank and Wendy Parrish

As you have read in the previous article, it may at times be necessary for God to chasten us as a loving father chastens his children so that we can have “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:5- 11). The Lord may even use difficult circumstances in our lives as part of that chastening.

However, it would be wrong to think that every time we face a trial or affliction, it is because God is chastening us. Trials can have a variety of sources, and it is quite acceptable to pause and ask, “Is there a specific cause for why I am (or my loved one is) suffering?”

SOURCES OF SUFFERING

There are several sources for trial or affliction. A thorough study of any one of these could fill many pages; but we will just briefly discuss the primary ones at this time.

Sometimes our suffering can be caused by one, or more than one, of the following:

  1. Sinful Choices: Oftentimes our own sinful or rebellious choices (or the choices of those near us) can bring terrible consequences into our lives. That is not what God desires for us; He gives us His Word (laws) to help us make the right choices.

But humans can be weak, and make bad choices; even Christians can make bad choices.

We may choose to reject God’s Word and go our own way. When we do, the consequences of our rebellion and sin can cause pain or suffering for us or our loved ones (see Galatians 6:7,8; Proverbs 11:18,19).

But we are certainly not left in this hopeless state. Remember, we can be forgiven. The Bible teaches us that whenever we repent and confess our sins, and turn from our wicked ways with true humility, the Lord not only forgives our sin, He cleanses us from even the unrighteousness of it (see 1John 1:7-9). However, we may still have to live with the con­ sequences of our sinful choice.

For instance, we may give in to the temptation to steal something. When we are found out, we may feel the pain or shame of rejection by others. We might have to spend time suffering in jail, or working hard to repay the one we stole from. God will forgive the sinful act when we repent, but the consequences can still bring difficulty to us, or to those we love.

(For more on sin and forgiveness, see Ezekiel Chapter 18; 2Peter 3:9; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Nehemiah 9:17; Ephesians 1:7.)

  1. God’s Chastening or Testing: In the previous article, you learned of the chastening work of God. In addition to chastening, God also tests us (Prov 17:3), and He may use circumstances to do that.

God already knows what is in our hearts, and it is not always good. The Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer 17:9). “For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds” (Ps 7:9).