(Psalm 71: 19-21, NLT)
19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.
One of the biggest reasons that people question God, and sometimes turn from Him, is that they simply cannot accept the fact that a God who created us and loves us would also allow us to suffer.
Well, I can only speak from my own experience, but when I was a kid, I required a lot more discipline than most other kids. I was always into something, I had very low impulse control, and I was curious. Add to that the fact that I was rebellious too, and you had a kid that kept her parents on their toes at all times. As I got older, I talked back and I don’t think I ever made curfew one time. I simply did not use any wisdom at all. My parents, being the loving and determined parents that they were, tried every type of discipline they knew to try. I got spankings, I got grounded, I got sent to my room to sit on my bed and “think about it” for several minutes, I got pinched at church when I talked (every Sunday, mind you), I got lectured (a lot), I was taken on many a guilt trip, and my parents even tried reverse psychology by removing my curfew and restrictions for a while (which, believe it or not, actually worked some).
So many times during those formative years of my life, I would lament and wallow in my “suffering” at the hands of my parents. I would think, “How can they do this to me if they love me?? It’s not FAIR!” Actually, I probably yelled it out loud a few times as well. In my immaturity, and because of the sinful state of my heart, I correlated their use of discipline with a lack of love. My parents didn’t make me feel unloved — my actions and decisions led me to a place of bitterness. And like most everyone who is at fault, I was looking for somewhere, besides myself, to place the blame.
When I finally got myself together…sorta…my heart was softened toward my parents. I began to see things through the lens of God’s truth. I finally understood the importance and meaning of loving discipline. When I opened my heart to this truth, my whole world changed. I was in right relationship with my parents for the first time in so many, many years, and I began to enjoy my time with them — appreciating them for who they were as people, rather than resenting them for being my parents (and good ones at that)! Let me tell you…that was SO liberating for me! I realized, there is no one who can compare to or replace a loving parent. No one.
So know this very important thing today…accept it, and bury it into your heart: GOD LOVES YOU! And when He allows hardship to come your way (and yes, He absolutely does allow bad things to happen to “good” people), there is a reason for it — which is most likely…yep…discipline. Not one of us is exempt from God’s correction and guidance. We are all subject to it, because we are all His children. He wants to see us grow, develop, and flourish — in every part of our lives. So when we are in the wrong, He corrects us — when we are standing still, He nudges us — and when we fall down, He lifts us up…even higher than we were before. He truly is a good, good Father to us. Perfect, in ALL of His ways…discipline and all!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that sometimes I need Your discipline in order to grow in spirit. When I am dealing with the grief and misfortunes that You have allowed into my life, give me eyes to see Your purpose in it all. Guard my heart from bitterness and ignorance, so that I may always move forward…past the hurt and anger…into Your favor and grace. Amen.