My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights. (PR 3:11-12)
When my kids were little I spanked them. I tried to do it with gentleness and love, but it did smart. And each of my kids had a different response to it. One would fight it all the way, twisting and screaming and begging, “NO, NO, NO!” all the way to the bathroom, thrusting his hands down to protect his little butt. Sometimes he’d resist so much I couldn’t give him his little spanking and I’d have to wait till later.
Another child had a completely different response. His was more like “Give me your best shot.” He would bend over, hands on the wall, and take it like a man. He might wince a bit, but as soon as it was over, would straighten up and look at me as if to say, “Is that all you got?”
We can react in various ways when the Lord disciplines us. We can “despise the Lord’s discipline” and say “This stinks. Why is God doing this to me?” We grumble and complain or go about downcast and miserable, sliding into the pit of self-pity. We resent others who seem to have no pain in their lives.
We can become “weary of his reproof.” We give up. “I quit.” We quit reading our Bible, quit asking God for his help, quit going to church.
Sometimes we interpret God’s discipline as if he is punishing us. But for believers, there is no more punishment for sins because Christ took our punishment on the cross.
But though God never punishes his children, he does discipline us because he LOVES and DELIGHTS in us – for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (12).
We must TRUST God when he takes us through painful hardships, and be careful not to DESPISE his discipline or BE WEARY of his reproof.
Hebrews 12, expanding on Proverbs 3, says that God’s discipline is proof we’re legitimate sons and daughters (8). Our loving Father disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness (10), that is, become more and more like Jesus.
God does so much for our good when he disciplines us. He steers us away from sin and temptation, like a shepherd giving a sheep a thwack with his rod on its side to keep it from the edge of a cliff. God humbles us, makes us dependent on him, and comforts us so we can comfort others who suffer. He strengthens our faith and makes us more merciful to others. He displays his power in us and proves his faithfulness. He does a thousand things for our good when he disciplines us. And though discipline hurts now, later it will yield good fruit.
But we must respond to God’s loving discipline correctly. We must trust our God completely. We must lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees (HE 12:12) – in other words, persevere. We must make straight paths for our feet (13), or turn away from any sin and get back on track with Jesus. When the Lord disciplines us, we’re tempted to bail out, or turn to other things for relief and comfort rather than him. But we must keep trusting him.
How do we do that?
Keep praying, seeking the Lord, and asking for help and strength. Ask him for anything you desire. Ask him to heal, provide, move you, change you. Ask him for joy.
Keep thanking him and praising him. Thank him for his steadfast love and his mercies that are new every morning. Thank him for his promise to never turn away from doing good to you. Thank him for his discipline – that he loves you and is forming Christ in you and making you holy. When we’re in heaven, we’ll thank our Father for disciplining us, because we’ll see the fruit. So why not get a jump start and start thanking him now.
Keep reading his word. Make sure you are not turning to your own understanding and being wise in your own eyes. God’s word is our lighthouse in the storm. His word keeps us trusting him and following him.
So if God is taking you through a painful season, don’t squirm and twist and cry and yell, “NO, NO, NO!” under God’s loving rod. Don’t grumble. Don’t faint. Don’t quit. And don’t interpret God’s discipline as punishment. It’s proof of his love.