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Hypothetically, if you are going through a painful situation:

  • Is it because God is trying to grow you/redirect you?
  • Or is it a result of sinful actions?
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Hi Nilesh and welcome to our Q&A site! The question is interesting, but it verges a bit close to asking for pastoral advice in my opinion. There are lot's of individual details that make it difficult to provide a general answer. It might help if you specified which Christian tradition you are interested in finding out about. – Jon Ericson Jan 8 '13 at 23:47
@NileshTailor: there is no one answer to that and no one alive can ever know that. – Greg McNulty Jan 10 '13 at 2:14
And what about those who are born with a painful congenital condition? – Gin Gordon Feb 26 '14 at 19:11
There are more than just the two possibilities you mention. God might be protecting you from a particular temptation (too sick to commit adultery?), or giving others an opportunity to practice kindness toward you, or warning others of what might happen to them, or setting the stage for a miraculous cure. There are probably more options that I'm not thinking of right now. And God is so smart that he might arrange for a single instance of suffering to serve several purposes. – Andreas Blass Jun 9 '14 at 12:13
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In his book, Secrets of the Vine (based on John 15), Bruce Wilkinson addresses this very question.

In both situations, there is pain, so the presence of pain does not necessarily mean one is under God's discipline, although it could.

The key thing is to examine one's life to see if there is any unconfessed sin and to ask God to reveal that. One could also discuss it with a close friend or pastor to see if there is anything that other people have noticed. If one is honest and there is nothing that God reveals, then it may be that the issue is purely one of growth.

Bruce Wilkinson distinguishes between the two by indicating that whenever there is pain because of sin, the pain continues until the person stops sinning. However, if it is purely a matter of growth, the pain will continue until God has finished His work.

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Hmm, I need to read that book again. Its actually one of my favorite books but I guess I missed that part. – Nilesh Tailor Jan 9 '13 at 21:32
@Narnian, Are there any biblical support for the claim "the pain continues until the person stops sinning"? – Pacerier Aug 3 '14 at 2:55

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