I recently had a conversation with a person who was struggling through all kinds of junk. As she told me her story, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry; it seemed like Murphy had come to live at her house, and everything she touched fell apart.

At some point in the conversation, she made the comment. "I just wish I knew what I was doing wrong."

She felt like God was disciplining her for something, but said she couldn't figure out what in the world it was.

During difficult times, it's pretty easy to default to that kind of thinking. Job's "friends" did it (Job 5:17). The disciples did it (John 9:1-2). I've done it too. But as those people all found out, God can have many purposes for allowing suffering; discipline is not always the reason for bad things in our life. And, I'm convinced that people who are under God's discipline know why they're under God's discipline.

While it's true God does discipline His children (Hebrews 12:5-6), Scripture is equally clear that He does so as a loving Father. I would never discipline my child without him knowing why I was disciplining him. I received a lot of discipline in my childhood days. While I may not have felt as though the discipline was fair or deserved at the time (it generally was), I was never in doubt as to why I was being disciplined.

Jonah knew why he was being disciplined by God (Jonah 1:9-10). Ananias knew why he was disciplined by God (Acts 5:1-5). The Corinthians were clear about why they were suffering (11:29-30). When you are disciplined, my experience is that you will have no doubt as to why you are being disciplined. God's a loving Father, not a cosmic sadist who loves to make you hurt without revealing to you the purpose.

If you're experiencing discipline and know the reason, repent and learn your lesson like a smart child would. If you're suffering for some other reason, trust in the God who is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18) and find your refuge and protection in Him (Psalm 5:11-12), but don't fear that God is whipping you without telling you why; He is a much more loving Father than that.