In the Old Testament, God repeatedly warned the Israelites about what would happen to them if they turned from Him to worship other idols or if they did not do what He commanded. Leviticus 26:14-29 describes the increments of discipline that the Lord would enact should the Israelites fail to follow Him. The purpose in the progressive chastisement is to turn His children back to Himself. If we remain stubborn, the discipline gets harder in order to break and humble us. So when we face suffering or challenges, we must first search our hearts to see if there is any sin in them.
In the story of Jonah, when Jonah tried to run away from God because he feared where God wanted to send him to preach, he snuck onto a ship sailing far from Nineveh. But God sent a mighty storm that terrified everyone aboard the ship, and Jonah knew that the storm was due to his disobedience. He told the sailors to throw him into the sea. God was trying to get Jonah’s attention. Jonah had clearly disobeyed, and God could have let him drown, but instead He sent an enormous fish to swallow him alive, so that Jonah might become repentant.
In Psalm 119:67, the Psalmist acknowledges, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.” God desires for His children to obey Him, and disciplining them for disobedience is what our loving Father has to do so that we might return to Him and keep His Word. Don't take lightly the discipline of God the Father!
P.S. To those of you who saw this in Reader a few weeks ago, sorry about that! I accidentally scheduled it wrong.