Immediately this was published someone in the LifeSite comment box appeared to say I am wrong: God is not punishing us. It's not me who needs to be persuaded, however, but the Holy Ghost who inspired so many texts in both Testaments about divine punishment.
What we should certainly avoid doing is trying to determine individuals' spiritual state according to the burden of suffering they bear. Perhaps such an extrapolation works in Budhism or Hinduism, but Christians are familiar with the fact that the saints frquently suffered, and sometimes the more God loved them, the more they suffered, and the greater their glory in heaven. But not always: you can't read off an inner state from outward circumstances the other way either.
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