No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. —Hebrews 12:11
Chastening ain't fun (if I may be excused the bad grammar!). The writer of Hebrews acknowledges this. (Surprise, surprise!) Therefore what James calls falling into trials—which we are to consider pure joy—the writer of Hebrews calls being disciplined, which leads to pure joy.
The way you know you are a true child of God is that you experience this unpleasant thing called chastening. It is an evidence that you are truly saved because the Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes those He accepts as a son or daughter (Heb. 12:6). So we could use this syllogism for those who may want to apply it:
1. All who are saved are disciplined, sooner or later (thesis).
2. But I am being disciplined (antithesis).
3. Therefore I am a true child of God (conclusion).
There is an important qualification to the above reasoning—namely, that it works to get your attention, and so you are led to a greater degree of holiness. Otherwise, any person who experiences something unpleasant may glibly conclude that he or she must be a genuine Christian. The syllogism applies only if such painful circumstances result in you seeking the Lord all the more.
The primary purpose of chastening is not to give assurance but to get our attention. God wants to bring us to holiness, Christlikeness, intimacy with God, peace, and joy. God disciplines us when there is a need for Him to have to resort to whatever it is that gets our attention.
Falling into trials or temptation is what God permits, but still by His sovereign design; being chastened is what God does—all because we are loved.
Excerpted from Pure Joy (Charisma House, 2006).