Christian Biblical Counsel: AFFLICTION, DISCIPLINE, CHASTISEMENT, TRIALS

See also Comfort; Prayer; and Trust.

1.   Not all affliction is for specific sins. God often sends affliction to purify and strengthen our faith, for his glory.

1 Peter 1:6–7. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

John 9:1–3. Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

2.   Job, a godly man, was severely tried; he lost his possessions and his children.

Job 1:1–22.

Job. 1:1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

Job 1:8. Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

Job. 1:20–22. Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

3.   God at times sends trials to develop patience in us.

James 1:2–4. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

4.   The psalmist was thankful for affliction, for it taught him to keep God’s precepts.

Ps. 119:67–68. Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.

Ps. 119:71–72. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.

Ps. 119:75–76. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant.

5.   God disciplines his children to promote sanctification.

Heb. 12:5–11.

6.   We must neither make light of God’s discipline nor lose heart because of it.

Heb. 12:5–6. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

7.   No discipline is pleasant, but later on we enjoy its fruit.

Heb. 12:11. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

8.   God disciplined and tried his people on their journey to the promised land to teach them important lessons.

Deut. 8:2–5. “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.”

9.   God tried his people at Marah, where he turned the bitter water sweet and soon gave a time of refreshment at Elim.

Exod. 15:22–27.

Exod. 15:25. So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them.

Exod. 15:27. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

10. To the lukewarm church Jesus declares that he rebukes and disciplines those whom he loves.

Rev. 3:14–22. (the letter to the church at Laodicea)

Rev. 3:19–20. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

11. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, a continual affliction to bear. God promised him that his grace would always be sufficient.

2 Cor. 12:7–10. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

12. In everything God works for the good of those who love him.

Rom. 8:28. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

13. God will never give you more than you can bear.

1 Cor. 10:13. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

14. We cannot always comprehend God’s ways, as he, in his wisdom, carries out his plan.

Rom. 11:33–36. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

15. King Hezekiah praised God for his loving discipline.

Isa. 38:15–19.

Isa. 38:15. “What shall I say? He has both spoken to me, And He Himself has done it. I shall walk carefully all my years In the bitterness of my soul.”

Isa. 38:17. Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

16. We can rejoice in our sufferings, which produce perseverance.

Rom. 5:3. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

17. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Rom. 8:18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

18. God blesses those who persevere under trials.

James 1:12. Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

19. Paul says that he suffered under great stress so that he might learn to rely more on God.

2 Cor. 1:8–9. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.

20. Paul says that God always has and always will deliver him.

2 Cor. 1:10–11. Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.[1]

 


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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