A: No, not necessarily. God uses different means to get our attention. He allows sickness and trials to usually test, enlarge, and bring our faith to maturity. Such things will cause us to look up to Him to walk us through trying times. Peter referred to it as the fiery test of our faith in 1 Peter 1:5-9. Faith is a choice to trust and obey the Lord in challenging times with circumstances that come our way, knowing that He indeed has a purpose and reason for allowing us to go through them for our benefit and His glory. It usually comes down to enlarging our testimony and our ability to minister in a more effective and compassionate way as described in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. We must remember that at the end of our faith is always some type of deliverance, revelation, and growth.
When it comes to chastisement it points to discipline due to rebellion, a means of exposing deviance in our character, highlighting wrong attitudes, and putting His finger on wicked practices that are often immoral and dishonorable. The times the Lord has chastised me I felt His heavy hand upon me and knew exactly what He was putting His finger on. It also confirmed that I was His child which brought comfort to me as He dealt with me. We are told in Hebrews 12:10-11 & 14 that the reason for chastisement is so we can partake of His holiness, for without holiness we will not see Him.
The other thing God uses is what Paul referred to as a “thorn in the side” in 2 Corinthians 12:1-11. For Paul, his thorn was eye problems. If you are serious about serving God, you will have a thorn or two. I know I do. Thorns are to keep us from becoming big-headed due to our pride over the types of gifts, callings, ministry, and revelations we have been entrusted with. Thorns have a certain way of highlighting our weaknesses that clearly will override any strengths in order to remind us that no matter what, God’s grace is sufficient to meet us even in our greatest weaknesses. We are also reminded that it is God’s work through His Spirit and no flesh will be able to glory in personal accomplishments (Zechariah 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31).
The final element we have to consider are consequences. God’s mercy holds back the ultimate consequences such as spiritual death and hell, but we must remember whatever we plant along the way in our lifestyles, practices and conduct will determine what we reap (Galatians 6:7-8). For me I have reaped consequences when it comes to my health due to bad eating habits, as well as at times in my relationships because of how I handled a matter, and a few times I had to face some dire consequences because of bad decisions and actions. Consequences can result in true repentance where one changes attitude and heart, in wisdom that is able to show proper discretion, and in sobriety that ceases to be casual about eternal matters.
We must learn to discern what we are experiencing and walking through. This is to make sure that Satan does not undermine our faith with unfounded guilt, condemnation and unbelief, cause us to miss the instruction in God’s loving chastisement, justify us in developing a root of bitterness over a thorn in the side, and blind us from seeing the mercy and opportunity that God is showing us when we are paying some consequences.