My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:3 (NASB)
I recently had an occasion to speak with a person who has experienced in a very real way the discipline of the Lord in their life. She has given me her permission to in essence tell her story. She had grievously sinned in a way that is not important to the purpose of this blog so I won't identify it here, but suffice it to say that she knew what she had done was grievous to God and would deeply hurt others if she was found out.
She told me that she realized her sin for the foolishness it was and repented of it before God without being discovered by anyone and for many months she kept her sin a secret. She rationalized keeping it a secret because of how much damage would be done to others if she spoke of it.
But God knew.
As I listened to her tell me about those months of personal, private suffering during and after she repented there was no doubt that she was describing the chastening hand of God.
For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. Psalm 38:2-3 (NASB)
She spoke of sleepless nights and a general restlessness that plagued her constantly. She never "felt good" and had an ongoing sensation of wanting to run. She would spend parts of her day in a sort of a daze, unable to get much accomplished at home. Because she did not work full time it was easy to hide during the day, and that is what she wanted to do most- hide. When she had to leave the house she struggled to hold herself together in public, especially when among Christians. She was constantly fearful she would reveal she was in distress and be exposed.
For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long. For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. Psalm 31:4-8 (NASB)
She felt incredibly alone. She felt isolated internally and externally. Her prayer life consisted of confessing her sin over and over to God, begging for His forgiveness, praying her secret would stay hers and His alone. She was plagued with sorrow and hopelessness, truly sick at heart at what she had done.
There are times when others have told me that they "heard voices" in their head and were not insane or crazy. This woman described the battle of the voices that went on day and night, night and day as she grappled with the magnitude of her secret sin. One "voice" urging her to confess what she had done, to come clean before God and man; and the other "voice" taunting her and shaming her. It told her what a horrid sinner she was, that God could not possibly love her, that she was worthless and unforgivable. It told her that her life as she knew it would be over, that she would be alone and unwanted. She listened to the voice that shamed her and kept the secret.
For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. Psalm 31:17-18 (NASB)
At the same time, she began listening to sermons that dealt with her sin issue and the Word of God began to minister to her heart. She desperately sought comfort from the Word of God but was confronted over and over with her secret sin. The difference (she said) was one "voice" was horribly condemning and the other was not.
She came to understand that all that she was suffering from was the chastening of God. As a Believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit God would not allow her to continue in sin the way she wanted to. Over time she realized that her desire to keep the sin secret was not so much for the benefit of her family as for herself. She feared exposing herself for herself. With that realization she confessed.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NASB)
On the other side of the whole thing, she tells me she understands that what happened to her spiritually was a blessing from God. Chastening drove her to repentance and confession and was evidence of her unity with Christ. She is thankful for what God has done in her life!