Question: How can we tell the difference between a person experiencing trials and tribulations versus experiencing covenant curses?
Answer: Like the people of Alma the Elder who repented of their iniquities at the Waters of Mormon and settled the Land of Helam, the consequences of their former transgressions still followed them even though they had repented of their sins and had been forgiven of God. The covenant curses they suffered by being brought into bondage by the Lamanites and persecuted by the Amulonites, however, the Lord turned to good. These afflictions served to cleanse and purify them from their iniquities or dysfunctional patterns and sanctify them to the point that the Lord miraculously delivered them from bondage. Not only that, but in their now sanctified state they became the nucleus of the church in Zarahemla.
From the point of view of the repentant sinner, it isn’t so significant whether one’s afflictions are the result of one’s own or from generational transgressions as is the importance of continuing to repent until one is cleansed, purified, sanctified, and empowered by the Lord over all evil.