Would God put you in time out?
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Here’s a concept we don’t promote much in the Christian community. We say that God is love, but too often what we mean is, “God only wants your life to be nice and happy. He would never do anything to make it too difficult and he certainly wouldn’t intentionally bring hardship into your life.” I confess that too often when I talk about God being love this is what I mean too. It’s not what I believe deep down but it seems like the right thing to say too often–especially pastorally. It wouldn’t go over as well to say, “Well, because God loves you it would be good to pray about if this hardship is his discipline.”
Discipline comes across as hardship. When I have to send one of my kids to their room or worst of all, take away the one hour of Wii time my son gets each week, they don’t say, “Wow, thanks so much dad for expressing your love to me through this discipline which I need to shape my character and keep me moving in the right direction.” No, they get upset about it. They don’t have the option of saying, “this isn’t really discipline, it’s just bad luck or the consequences of a sinful world working against me,” they know it’s discipline.
Parents know that discipline can be given out of their depth of love. It can also be given out of anger. I am thankful that we serve a God who will never discipline us out of the latter. Yes, Scripture paints God as angry at the sins of his people, and his discipline is harsh at times, but it is always done with the deep desire to see their relationship restored and their destructive behavior rooted out. It is not a mushy love, but it is a redemptive love.
Aside from an overwhelming revelation from God I’m never going to tell someone that the things going on in their life are God’s discipline. But I think I need to start allowing myself to consider and pray about what things in my own life might be that. After all, I serve a God who loves me enough not to just let me go down the paths that will destroy me.