11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
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My perspective on this is still developing, but so far, I see two clear distinctions being made in scripture when Christians experience what is generally known as 'affliction.' They are separated and clearly distinguished from each other by the 'source' of the affliction, which is either evil, or GOD operating as the Holy Spirit within us. When evil is 'punishing' us for violating its rules or interfering in its operations, it does so through spiritual authorities which we have 'tolerated.' We do this by our inactivity or choice not to confront them earlier in their development process before they had real power to affect us. Christians can know that this type of affliction is the source of their current trouble in life by the immediate presence of joy from the first moment it arrives. That 'joy' is GOD acknowledging the injustice of our situation, just as He even did for Himself as GOD the Son while 'for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross' for us, (Hebrews 12:2). You can also see this 'rejoicing' among the disciples while being 'punished' for preaching the gospel, (Acts 5:41). So that is one distinct type of affliction and a good way to identify the source as being evil. The other is when GOD 'disciplines' us Himself as His children in order to instruct us in holiness and teach us to more clearly distinguish between good and evil ourselves. That is the ultimate goal of our maturing faith, (Hebrews 5:14). During this type of affliction, the joy only arrives at the end after we recognize that we need to repent and take action to correct the error, or just adjust our bad mentality: "And all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, but to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11). GOD basically lets us feel 'on our own' since we essentially decided to do that, (in a way), by disobeying Christ's commands in some way. Yahweh is saying, 'Okay big shot, do it your way, WITHOUT my joy. Let's see how confident you are when affliction strikes you and I seem to be nowhere to be found.' That's how divine discipline feels to me. However, there is no greater feeling than suddenly 'getting it' and realizing that the mess I'm in is now 'solvable.' That's the feeling of 'peace' that reassures me, (even while the affliction is still around), that everything is going to work out okay now. The 'bad guy' is not the source of this particular affliction. This 'Source' loves me and wants the trouble to end as soon as possible. How quickly it actually does end is up to me. That is going to be determined by two things: 1) How much I grumble; 2) How much I argue. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you will be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:14-15).
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