Saturday, October 01, 2005

Handling Adveristy - Sources of Suffering: Trials, Chastisement and the will of God

Sources of Suffering
Trials, chastisement, and the will of God

Viewing adversity while it is happening and trying to determine if something is a temptation or a trial can be very difficult to discern. We’ve already read in James1:12-15 the process of temptation and how it begins within ourselves when our inordinate desire, lust, goes unchecked. It was said by a wiser man than me, “A temptation can turn into a trial but a trial is not a temptation.” What this statement acknowledges is from the context of James 1, temptations do not come from God but it begins by saying that the enduring of temptation, results in being successful and overcoming it. It is when temptation is conquered that it is only a trial.

There are times when God does place trials, or tests, on people. Recalling the context of John 9:1-5 the man was blind for the reason that God’s works would be made known. A common question on this topic is, “Why does God test those whom he loves?” For example in Jeremiah 17:10, God says he searches the heart and tries the reins and the reason He does this is stated so that God will give to each man according to what he does. David asks to be tried in Psalms 139:23. The idea of a trial as the form of a test is not a new concept to us. Coming back to our favorite analogy of sports, there are often times special events, trials of some sort, in order to determine any number of characteristics of the event. It could be a time trial where one rider is working against the clock to demonstrate their best time. College football players will go through a testing event called a combine before the NFL draft each year. Trials are a good thing when the goal is kept in mind. They provide a means to demonstrate what we’re made of, succeed, and excel.

Chastisement on the other hand, is not so pleasant of a topic. This originates when we’ve done something wrong. A simple example of chastisement is what your parents did when you violated a rule of the house. It could come in the form of a spanking, grounding, extra chores, or any number of possibilities. There is no mistake as to what they are trying to achieve: awareness that you did something wrong and a lesson to help remember not to do it again. When bad things happen to people it is a very common reaction to think that some wrong was committed to be deserving of the punishment. Job’s friends thought this was what was happening to him. We see the same thing today in natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina. Many around the world viewed the destruction of New Orleans as a sign that God was punishing the United States for the war in Iraq or moral depravity. Chastisement is simpler to understand in personal application but very difficult in broad, general terms such as natural disasters. In either case whether it is a trial or chastisement, God is exerting his rule and dominion over his creation to work towards a better good for us all.


1. Trial

2. Chastise

3. Approve


1. Find scripture that speak of chastisement by God. Why is God doing this in each case?

2. Find scripture that speak of trials by God. Why is God doing this in each case?

3. Abraham is a character in the Old Testament that we can see God actively working in his life. What are some of his tests and what was the outcome?

4. What should be our view and attitude towards trials and chastisement? Site scripture.

5. How does love work in the context of trials and chastisement? What do parents do with children as they grow and mature?

6. It is difficult for some to see the difference between God’s will influencing someone’s life and the person’s free-will. What does the Bible have to say about such things and how are these two things harmonized?

7. National judgment and punishment is something that is seen in the Bible many times. Site a few examples and what God says are the reasons why it is happening.

8. It was said earlier that a trial is not a temptation. However, failing a trial can result in sinning. How can that happen and why? Who is responsible for that happening?