“I hate you!”
You’ve seen it before in the movie or maybe even in real life. A child recoils in anger as a result of consequences of his actions. I remember reading the advice to never administer discipline with the bare hand because a child will disassociate the hand from the person and it will only be viewed as an implement of pain.
Job’s friend, Eliphaz, “encourages” Job with this nugget of wisdom: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: Therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17). Isn’t it interesting, how we often separate God’s chastening from His character? Eliphaz’s statement was tactless, yet it is full of truth for the writer of Hebrews echoes this perspective, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:5-6).
First, we must remember when experiencing the chastening of the Lord to never divorce the tool of correction from the nature of God. When we isolate the painful instructor of rebuke from the moral anchor of God’s character, we villainize the encounter and in effect respond, “I hate you!” When the reprimand of earthly cares strikes pain in our hearts, God becomes the enemy. No. You must keep the chastening connected to His essence. In His holiness, He guides us into the paths of righteousness which lead to life. In His love, He delights in His best for our lives. In His justice, He is compelled to respond to our transgression with pain as much as He is compelled to respond to our worship with the pleasures at His right hand.
Not only remember the Lord’s nature, but also remember the Lord’s restraint in chastening. Reflect on the following sentiments:
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve. (Ezra 9:13)
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Jeremiah actually provides the voice of reason when he says, “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” To receive chastening, correction, or even conviction is to remember you are alive. Chastening is a reality check. You’ve been extended the opportunity to try again. “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:39-40).
Can you be happy when you experience God’s correction? It still sounds almost absurd, but “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” If He didn’t care He wouldn’t correct and think where we would be without His unfailing compassion.