Modern Christians tend to misplace a good portion of their compassion. Often when they learn of someone who is struggling or hurting, regardless of the reason, they are quick to offer their blessings, support and encouragement. This kind of indiscriminate sympathy is far from what we see in the pages of the New Testament.
The apostles maintained a careful distinction between “suffering for doing good” and “suffering for doing evil” (1Pt.3:13-17). The former is commended and Christians are called to offer their prayers and their reassuring help (1Pt.2:19-20). The latter calls for correction and usually prompted a godly rebuke (1Pt.4:14-17). When we fail to make this distinction we risk being supportive of the unrepentant, thus encouraging insensitive consciences and hardened hearts toward God (Heb.12:5-6). Or it could be that our aimless affirmations will unwittingly contribute to “mocking God” by glossing over the important relationship between “sowing and reaping” (Gal.6:7).
So when the connection between suffering and sin is obvious, we should pray and exhort the repentant sufferer to affirm God’s holiness, and with David sing: “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Ps.119:75). We all have much to learn from our self-inflicted trials. May we be quick to repent and learn our lessons so that we can make a full recovery and move on to walking even more closely with Christ.