God’s discipline, though painful, is necessary!
I realized the other day that on several occasions, I have been unable to picture God as a God of love and a God of discipline at the same time. Could this be because I sometimes take God to be like a teddy bear that gives endless hugs and kisses, and is constantly smiling at me even when I do wrong? Yes, God is our father who loves us in a way nobody can, but there will be times when he must crack the whip.
Why, then, does God choose to discipline us? Does he really have to take us through a disciplining process that is painful and uncomfortable when there is an easier option?
God disciplines us because he loves us
Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (NLT)
Those of us who are parents understand the pain that comes with disciplining one of our children when they do wrong. It is painful, both for the parent and for the child! Discipline that is borne out of love is, however, necessary, otherwise the child will never learn from his or her mistakes.
Years ago, I attended a bridal shower for a friend of mine. One of the guests had a young baby who had just started walking. After a while, the lights went out, and the host lit a few candles. This little baby decided to discover the effects of putting a finger close to the flame. His mother, knowing very well that there was a lesson to be learnt, let him touch the flame amidst protests from the other guests. You can imagine the reaction of the baby when he felt the pain of the flame – loud wails! At this point, the mother calmly picked him up and took him to another room to complete the disciplining process. Do you think that little person would ever put his hand anywhere near a flame again? No! As hard as it was for her, his mom let him get hurt, and he learnt an important lesson about fire– a lesson that stuck in his mind for many years to come.
In the same way, God chooses to discipline us out of love. He disciplines us just as an earthly father would, with the aim of making sure that his children do not forget the lessons when they grow up. Lastly, God’s disciplinary actions also point us towards a closer relationship with him, as we get to understand what pleases him and what doesn’t. In short, he disciplines us because he does not want to lose us!
God uses discipline to train us
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (NLT)
Back when I was in primary school, I didn’t understand why the sports coach would tell us to run so many laps, or why the swimming coach would insist on lap swimming before the lesson began. With time, however, I noticed that the kids who didn’t struggle to do the extra laps became stronger and more resilient(unlike the stragglers). Also, the kids who enjoyed lap swimming swam longer and faster every time we had a swimming lesson. The coaches actually had a plan – training us through the discipline of doing laps!
When I am praying earnestly for something, I usually imagine (when I am frustrated, that is) that God is saying to himself, “She just needs to pray for a few more days, and then I will answer her.” I still pray for a few more days, however, and guess what – he answers. I gladly receive my answer (thank God!) and at the same time, realize that I have learnt how to persevere in prayer.
Sometimes God will withhold something from you until you learn whatever lessons he has for you. Other times, he will take you through periods of pain, struggle, sorrow, etc just so that he can train you to be a better Christian. Though the training period is not easy, the lessons learnt at the end are often worth the process. Next time God sends you to his training camp to learn a thing or two, don’t fight the process. Just behave like you are in class, sitting at his feet, ready to listen and learn, and everything else will fall into place.
God disciplines us for our good
Deuteronomy 8:5 “Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” (NLT)
If you are as human as I am, you will agree that seeing the good in the midst of an intense God-training season is easier said than done. Losing a job, losing a loved one, going through a period of long illness, or struggling to make ends meet are some of the seasons where discipline seems unfair, unwarranted and unnecessary.
God still disciplines us for our good, though.
Let’s be honest here- there are some things that God gives us that end up being ‘snares’ in our lives, right? For example, you get a great new job with awesome perks, and suddenly you have no problem with money. There is just one catch, though – you may need to spend more time at work and sacrifice your time with God. What happens next?
Simple – God is a jealous God – he will not let you drift away just like that. He may choose to take away that thing that is drawing you away from him, or simply make it into a thorn that makes your life uncomfortable! God does not give up his territory that easily, and he will make sure you turn back to him, even if the process is difficult for you. Because we are often unaware of the things that are drawing us away from God, he removes them from our lives the way a parent would withdraw a privilege.
Does this sound unfair? It does, if you look at it from a worldly perspective. From an eternal perspective, however, we need to remember that whatever we do here on earth counts towards eternity. If something here on earth is, however, drawing you away from God and your inheritance in him, it has got to go!
God’s discipline, as uncomfortable as it may be at the time, is best for us, because it is done out of love, and for our benefit. I am so glad that God loves me enough to want to train me to be an effective Christian just the way a father would train his own child to be a responsible citizen! How about you?
Hi, everyone! I hope you enjoyed reading this week’s article. What are your thoughts on God’s discipline? Let me know in the comments section, and don’t forget to share this article with your friends! Have a great week!