Re: Paying off a sin?
Absolutely not. Now sometimes we do have to face consequences for our sin (think David losing his child with Bathsheeba), but the main point of hard times is strictly an exercise for your faith.
It's easy to have faith when everything is going great. Real faith endures the hard times. Ask any athlete and they'll tell you that unless you put a muscle under strain, it'll never get any stronger. Your faith is the same way, and that's the point.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." - James 1:2-3 ESV (emphasis added)
James said when, not if, and that's a very important distinction.
One of my favorite verses pertaining to this topic is Proverbs 24:10.
"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."
That's basically Old Testament speak for, "If you lay down and die when trouble comes, you're a wuss."
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." - Isaiah 48:10
This is God speaking through Isaiah. Affliction is a refining process for us.
And, to avoid hijacking the thread, I'll end with this one.
"So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness WILL be many. All that comes is vanity." - Ecclesiastes 11:8 (emphasis added)