If a toddler runs into a busy street we would expect a reaction from his parents. After the initial shock and fear, we would look for that parent to do something to prevent it happening again. Whether it be giving that little one a stern talking to or a swat on the behind, the parents would be negligent in their duties if they didn’t do something to protect the toddler. A roadway is a dangerous place for a child. The child usually doesn’t like the parent’s reaction as it involves pain of some kind, but keeping that little one out of the path of a car is more important than the child’s tears. The goal of safety and growths is more important than the momentary unhappiness.
If the mom and dad did not do something to show the foolishness and danger of running into the street they would not be expressing love for their toddler. Even though it may provoke tears and kicking and screaming, it is Parenting 101 that parents are willing to discipline and place limits upon their kids to protect them from greater harms and ensure their future.
If the toddler repeats their error and is running towards the street with a truck bearing down, a loving parent would do whatever is necessary to prevent the tragedy they see coming, right? If the only way to save their greatly cherished child from the truck is to tackle the sweet little toddler, what would any reasonable parent do? Love and mercy demands taking the running child down as gently as possible rather than allowing them to experience the even worse possibly permanent pain. In a circumstance where the parent sees certain harm bearing down on their short sighted little babe, it would be a good thing for that child to get knocked down even if it hurts. It would be what any loving parent would do. The parents have no desire to knock the child down and cause pain, but the child’s actions have left no choice. A serious response is required to prevent a great tragedy. A bit of temporary pain now is better than a hugely painful permanent injury. Again, it seems like Parently 101.
Given that we probably take this idea for granted with earthly parents, why are we surprised when similar situations occur with our Heavenly Father? When we have gone astray and put ourselves in danger and God disciplines us or places limits on us that cause us to kick and scream. Why do we struggle when God who has perfect foreknowledge sees us running headlong on a collision course with great possibly permanent harm and is forced to knock us down, literally or figuratively?
He calls Himself is our Father after all. He loves us and wants us to grow in maturity, love, and holiness rather than be pulled down by the things of this world. It is Parenting 101 that parents discipline their kids and are willing to cause short term unhappiness to ensure their safety and long-term prosperity, right?
God is our Father and fathers discipline their children because they love their children. According to the Book of Hebrews, God’s chastening us so that we grow in His holiness is proof that we are His children. If God is not disciplining us, then we are not His legitimate child. Just like with earthly parents, love requires parent’s discipline their kids so they don’t keep making the same mistakes and learn to avoid danger on their own. Growth as Christians requires that God shows us when we have done wrong so we can feel the pain of the mistake and learn to avoid it. God’s love and mercy even involve sometimes taking us down when we are headed for an even bigger more painful fall. It may hurt, but it is a mercy compared to what we are prevented from doing.
If we are struggling today feeling God’s discipline in our lives, take a moment and consider where it points us towards. God’s chastening is never pointless or punitive. It is always with the goal of protecting us and growing us in holiness. It is to make our lives in Jesus better. It may not seem fun at the moment but is for our good. Jesus says to take up your cross and follow Him – the cross wasn’t fun for Jesus either. Do we trust that God is a good father, even when it hurts?