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The story is told about a man who had a stubborn mule—so stubborn that sometimes, despite all the coaxing and cajoling the owner did, the animal would not budge. Once, the mule was pulling the owner’s wagon and stopped in the middle of the road. The man did all he could to get the mule get going but he refused. Finally the frustrated man built a fire under the animal. The old mule took three steps and let the man’s wagon burn down. Some people are like that mule—stubborn—and God may take drastic action to get them to repent and do right. God may use trouble to humble us, and it is not implausible that he would use sickness to bring us to our senses. That’s what happened to King David. In Psalm 38 we read David’s cry for mercy. In the midst of his hurt, he cries. “I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain, but I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.” The Apostle Paul, likewise, pointed out that some people in the church at Corinth were “weak, sick, and some had died” because they dishonored the Lord in the way they acted around the Lord’s Table. Of course, we must not think that every ailment is the result of some specific sin. God has His own reasons for the things He lets His children experience. Yet on occasion, He may use sickness or trouble to refine our character or to fulfill His purpose for us.

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