"The Lord disciplined me severely but did not give me over to death.” (Psalm 118:18 CSB)
Discipline is probably not a hysterically popular subject for most of us. The reason that is so is that most of the time it isn’t very much fun, whether giving or receiving it, and also because we may sometimes be distracted from its purpose.
Some of us prefer to think that God does not take actions that hurt us or injure us in some way. It is certainly true that God is a loving and compassionate Father. If we ask Him for a fish, would He give us a snake? Not hardly. But compassion can at times call for discipline, and the severity of the discipline is dependent on what God wants us to learn.
The writer of Hebrews adds to what the psalmist had to say. He first quoted from the Old Testament and then wrote, “’My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives.’ Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline?... Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share in His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11 CSB)
The purpose of God’s discipline is to help us share in His holiness and purposes for our world. It is “on the job training” for a vision that is beyond our ability to totally comprehend. It does not come from malicious intent but always comes from a heart of compassion and purpose. Therefore, it is not something to be despised, but something to be celebrated and appreciated for the intent that is behind it. Ultimately, we see the fruit of God’s discipline, and that is when we turn to Him and say, “Thank You, Father.”
Lord, We have no trouble recognizing the painfulness of discipline, but help us to understand and appreciate also the purpose of discipline and celebrate its outcomes. Amen.