Part 2- Corrective discipline
We talked in the last section about suffering that results from the natural consequences of our choices. While it’s true that not all suffering stems from our choices, there is much of it that does. We often feel a strong desire for justice when we see someone else who is causing harm. Yet, it is much harder to swallow when we are the ones to blame. We all wish we could avoid suffering the consequences of our choices, but we also know on some level that it is necessary.
We see evidence of this in our own society. Laws are established to curb violent or destructive behavior and to protect others. In order for the laws to be effective we need to know what is expected, the consequences if we violate that expectation, and the law has to be enforced. On a smaller scale we do the same thing as parents. We make rules for our children, we warn them about the consequences, and if they violate those rules we have to follow through if we expect a change in behavior. So what would happen if we didn’t enforce the law? Would people continue to follow it or would they begin living by their own laws? The truth is we need corrective discipline to show us why we need to change. This is a necessary component to maintain a thriving society or to raise respectful children.
So why would we expect anything less from God? We are his children. The Bible reveals His expectations and warns us of the consequences for disobedience. Does God discipline us because he delights in punishing his children? As a parent I can assure you that is not the case. It hurts when I have to discipline my children. I would much rather that they listen and obey allowing us to maintain harmony in our relationship. But I also know that they will learn nothing if I don’t follow through. So when I discipline my children it’s because I love them and I care about the person they will become. In the same way God does not protect us from our consequences because He loves us, He cares about our future, and who we will become.
Sometimes the low points in our lives are some of the most meaningful. They can serve as a reality check helping us to finally see the need to change. Discipline gets our attention and can signal our need to return to God. God disciplines his people throughout the Bible, desiring to save them from ultimate judgement. He does the same for us today. Discipline is an act of love. We don’t have to enjoy it, but we should recognize it for what it is. The following is just a sample of scripture revealing God’s purpose for loving corrective discipline:
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal. Job 5:17-18
Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death. A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again. Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Proverbs 19:18-20
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19
Check back for the final section which will show how we can find meaning in our suffering.