By Frank and Wendy Parrish
As you have read in the previous article about God’s Chastening, it may at times be necessary for God to discipline 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 or disciplining us.
Trials can have a variety of sources, so 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.
But beyond that, 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. God does not desire us to suffer consequences, but rather to make good choices and not have to suffer bad consequences. We are to live according to His Word and instructions. He gives us His Word (laws) to help us make the right choices and live this life the way He designed for it to work.
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 consequences 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 from whom we stole.
God will forgive our sinful acts 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; 2Pet 3:9; 2Chron 7:14; Neh 9:17; Eph 1:7.]
2. GOD’S CHASTENING OR TESTING – It is clear in Scripture that God disciplines and chastens His children. Please see the ACTS Study on “God’s Chastening” to understand more about how that can relate to our suffering.