“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 Discerning whether suffering is a discipline from God or a persecution from the world may not necessarily be helpful. Sometimes, a person with a very tender conscience will see a degree of sin in almost all of her thoughts and actions. And this is certainly true! However, then that dear one may interpret every trial or tough experience as an appropriate punishment from the Lord. That is not true.
Jesus’ sacrifice atones for our sins; all we need to do is follow 1 John 19, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God will direct all of our experiences (chastening or persecuting) to purify and develop us. Essentially, our responsibility is to obey God’s holy commands in every trial. It is our obedience to our Lord which develops the fruits of the spirit, greater faith, and our transformation into Christ’s likeness.
Jesus had no sin, yet the scriptures teach us His suffering developed Him. Hebrews 5:8 (NIV), “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he earned obedience from the things he suffered.” So how are we developed through suffering? By being obedient in tough experiences, we become more determined and our characters become crystalized in righteousness. “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7 (NLT)
There are times when we sin, and we reap the consequences of that sin. However, as Romans 8:28 teaches, all of our experiences are overruled by God and are meant to bless us. So, let’s not worry about how to classify trials; let’s just be obedient and glorify God in all that we say and do!