My grandson, Gio, who is 4, sometimes needs to be corrected like any toddler. Grandfathers see those moments of discipline so much differently than the parents. “It’s just a little thing. Don’t make him sad,” I offer. But, truthfully, it is good that his Dad and Mom correct his behavior. His protests and tears over a ‘time out’ are hard for this “Pop” to see but I know that the goal of his parents is not to make him miserable but to teach and train him for life.
Paul, the spiritual father of the Christians in the city of Corinth, sent them a letter of correction that made them sad! He spoke sharply about their abuse of spiritual gifts, told them to get over their immature worship of certain teachers, and pointed out their divisions which was destroying their testimony in the city.
Titus brought news of their response to Paul. “They are,” he said, “experiencing true sorrow and repentance.” Paul wrote a second time to say – “I am glad that you were sad.” Is he gloating? Not at all! “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10, NIV)
The Lord disciplines us and sometimes it hurts so badly that we weep! His grace and mercy are deep and wide, but He loves us too much to allow us to destroy ourselves without challenging us. I know when I have grieved God’s Spirit because I sense His disappointment. That sense of peace that I know when He is with me lifts and I feel alone. Confession and repentance restores the relationship. David knew that feeling, too. In a Psalm that is a most heart-wrenching cry of godly sorrow he sings, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” (Psalm 51:10-12, NLT)
Paul tells the church that failing to recognize Jesus as Lord, abusing the grace of God, will cause us to lose our joy, and sometimes to go through terrible difficulties. When everything is going wrong, when we are continually sick, when depression stalks us – we are wise to ask the Father if we are living in ways that invite His discipline. If He reveals choices, words, thoughts that are rebellious, there is only one thing to do: repent! “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17, NLT) Paul calls this “godly sorrow.”
God is not petty nor petulant. He is good and kind. The Scripture is clear that not all of the outcomes of life are direct cause and effect, at least from our limited perspective. Godly people often suffer and sometimes the wicked prosper. But, we cannot ignore the fact that God, our Father, desires obedience and corrects us for our own good. He is glad when we are sad if that sorrow leads us to deeper devotion and sincere change of heart.
Are you troubled by the silence of God?
Is life filled with troubles?
Wisely, humbly, in times of quiet prayer, with a wise counselor – evaluate your ways.
Is the Lord correcting you?
Will your response be a godly sorrow that leads to a change of heart?
Here’s the word from the Word. “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, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.” -The Message, Heb 12:5-10
Abba, renew my faith.
Help me to be ready to say “yes,”
to respond to correction with a real turnaround.
When I am troubled in heart or find myself in hard times,
give me a discerning mind to understand when You are
correcting me to make me more like Jesus.
Draw me close to Your heart.
Keep me in Your grace.
Let me know joy in a new day of mature godliness.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen