There’s a concept in Christianity that doesn’t get much airtime these days, yet it’s biblical. It’s the idea that God disciplines those He loves.
Maybe the reason we avoid it is because it sounds kind of harsh, or mean. But the truth is that God’s discipline has everything to do with His love and concern for our well-being.
When God disciplines you, it is proof that He loves you.
The idea shows up in a lot of places in Scripture, but perhaps one of the clearest expressions is in Hebrews 12. Quoting the Proverbs, the writer says,
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
In other words, when we need correction, our Heavenly Father stands ready to lovingly and firmly give it to us. When we try our hand at living independently of God, as we are all prone to do, He doesn’t just leave us to our own demise. He comes after us. He seeks to regain our attention and trust. Sometimes this involves painful measures.
Pastor Tony Evans bluntly puts it this way: Whom the Lord loveth, He spanketh.
Disciplined ≠ Defeated
In Psalm 60, David saw God’s discipline in the form of attacks coming from his surrounding enemies. It’s as if God was using the bad guys to be instruments of misery in order to regain His people’s attention again. They were his “paddle,” so to speak, and it worked.
1O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us.
The interesting thing is David did not equate being disciplined with being defeated. On one hand, he knew his nation was being disciplined by God for unfaithfulness, but on the other hand, he believed they would ultimately prevail. God was still with them and He was still for them. At the end of the psalm he confidently says,
12 With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
On a personal note, I can remember being in my early twenties and experiencing a long series of setbacks and failures. At one point I was so frustrated by what seemed to be a ton of avoidable problems that I pounded the steering wheel of my car and screamed out, “Okay, I get it!!”
In that moment I knew my Heavenly Father was dealing with me and that I had a choice to make. My way wasn’t working. I had a relationship with Jesus, but I was holding out in some areas of my life. After months of resistance, finally I opted to make some adjustments and cooperate with the God who was patiently, lovingly disciplining me.
If it had not been for God’s tough love back then, I hate to think where I would be today.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.