When our parents took away our privileges because we were irresponsible, we promised ourselves we would never say what they said at that moment, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Fifteen years later we are looking at our crying son, who’s just lost his video game privileges for a week, and we hear – gasp! – those same words coming out of our mouth! Only when we are a parent can we start to understand that discipline does hurt a loving father even more than the son. A father who enjoys the discipline of his children, who lacks empathy for their struggle, is very likely to become abusive. He will lose sight of the fact that discipline must reshape behavior. He will let his frustration fuel harsh measures and cruel words. But, a wise and loving father will risk anger and tears because he sees past the moment to the goal of gaining a mature, wise son.
God, our Father, is never abusive, but He will discipline us. He is unafraid of our tears and sees beyond the unpleasantness of our complaints and protests. And, He cries while He lets us feel the heavy hand of His correction. The Spirit whispered into the heart of Isaiah about the Father’s desire to bring the errant sons of Judah back to Himself.
“Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the Lord, against whom we sinned, for the people would not walk in his path, nor would they obey his law. Therefore, he poured out his fury on them and destroyed them in battle. They were enveloped in flames, but they still refused to understand. They were consumed by fire, but they did not learn their lesson. But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. … you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. .. Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’ …
“You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. …
First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 42:24-43:12, NLT)
On the other side of loving discipline, there is a sweet reward. When my children matured, when their lives gained wisdom, our relationship deepened. Nothing except Jesus’ love and my wife’s affection is sweeter to me than observing my now adult children using the lessons of their childhood as foundation stones for their marriages, careers, and spirituality. They know now that there was nothing to fear from their Dad who once loomed so large, even threatening, in their lives. Now they know that often I stood outside of their rooms all those years ago listening to their tears and wept along with them.
Disciple, bend to the will of God. Give yourself quickly to Him. Why break His heart with your rage and resistance? You will not drive Him away. He has invested Himself in you, giving you His Name. Even as He lets troubles and fiery trials come your way, He reminds you that He is not bent on your destruction, but on your redemption. “You are precious to me. You are honored and I love you” He says through His own sorrow at your self-inflicted pain.
Here’s a word from the Word. May it encourage you, even if you are in the middle of a temper tantrum before your Abba.
“So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training.” (Hebrews 12:5-7, The Message)
How deep the Father’s love for us.
How vast beyond all measure!
That He should give His only Son,
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss;
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
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