It seems more and more of my once normal life is being slowly "taken away". Honestly, it feels like more than I can bear! I've been tempted to think this pain might be a punishment from God due to past sins and that I'm just getting what I deserve. There are people who believe this - that pain and various types of suffering are a direct punishment of our sins - but that is not what the Bible teaches.
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14Christ's death on the cross paid the debt of sin once and for all for those who trust Christ for their salvation. God is not up in heaven declaring cancer and earthquakes and job terminations to punish His children. The punishment is done - Christ bore God's wrath in our place. But sometimes God does allow and purpose suffering in the lives of His children as a means of discipline. Does that mean that every time you get the stomach flu or a tornado strikes that God is disciplining His children? No, I don't see that the Bible teaches that. But it does teach that God disciplines His children.
"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:5-11It would be unloving for me not to disciple my two year old when she disobeys. I want her to learn to honor her parents and love God and to obey what the Bible teaches. The discipline may be painful, but overall it is for her good. If God did not discipline us, we would not be his children and He would not love us. God is not against His children, He is always for us. And discipline is a means God uses for our good - to make us holy, righteous, and full of peace.
I do not know if my new pain is God's way of disciplining me. We sin multiple times a day, so I think we often do not know when hardship comes if it is discipline or the result of living in a fallen world. Either way, God's purpose in suffering is that we would "share His holiness" and grow to be more like Christ. We can take heart knowing that even in our worst pain, God loves us and Christ has taken our punishment. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
For more study on this topic read or listen to this challening sermon by Pastor John Piper