I think it to be a bit uncommon to talk about the discipline of God. It is often a neglected part of God’s sanctification in us. But if we think about it and read what the bible says about it and meditate on it, we can find faith and joy to endure and repent.
what’s the difference?
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good,that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:5-11
The main difference between discipline and punishment is the purpose. The purpose of punishment is paying back while the purpose of discipline is bringing back.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus has paid fully for all our sins, past, present and future. So when we are suffering after we sin, we are not paying back the wrong we did. Rather, it is God’s mercy and grace that is bringing us back to the straight and narrow path of righteousness that leads holiness.
remember the purpose of life
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. - Ephesians 1:4
The purpose of our lives is to live in a way that honors and worships God. That was God’s original design before the fall: for us to live without sin, in perfect harmony with him. And that is what God is working in us to complete (Phil. 1:6).
When Adam brought sin into the world, it infected all of mankind, causing us our nature to be sinful (Rom. 5:12, Ps. 51:5). And because of our ability to choose, which God honors, we must choose everyday how we should live.
sowing and reaping
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. - Galatians 6:7-8
The principle of reaping and sowing is often limited to finances. While that has it place, reaping and sowing is much more vast in regards to our lives.
We see here in Paul’s letter to the Galatians that this principle is primarily dealing with our way of life. Where we sow from (the Spirit or the flesh) determines what we reap (the fruits of the Sprit that lead to eternal life or corruption that leads to destruction).
If we makes choices from our flesh, we will reap corruption. Using that logic, if we continually make choices in the flesh, we would become increasingly corrupt and ungodly, thus, reap eternal separation from God.
a holy purpose
God doesn’t allow his children to grow in corruption, just as any good parent would not allow their children to sway from their way.
He allows the consequences of our actions (good or bad) to come about so that we may learn to not just feel bad for sinning against him, but to have a taste of where sin leads to, a taste of where good leads to and to repent from our ways and sow from the Spirit, that we may bring about the completion of his holy work to be a holy people before him (2 Cor. 7:10).
When we see and feel our suffering after we sin, we should remember the grace of God; that he is leading us back to his way for us; that he is pleading for us to turn back from our sin and not forget who he has called us to be.
Yes, we suffer when we sin. And yes, it is difficult to endure. And yes, it is difficult to see what we are to become (and already are!). But we mustn’t forget that it is an act of grace for a holy purpose.