August 15, 2022
After one has come to Christ, one of the sobering realities is realizing that we are not immune to trouble. Somehow, we naïvely believe that all problems will be over because we’re now in Christ. “In this world,” Jesus said to His followers, “You will have tribulation.” Christ does not intend to deliver us from all troubles in this life. In fact, His empowering amid difficulties is the means of our greatest witness to others.
We not only face the stresses of a fallen world but there is more. The Father, in His relentless love for us, will discipline or “chasten” us. He is out to conform us to the image of His Son; to return us to the Manufacturer’s original specifications. Since we have picked up habits and sins and deceptions along the way, these must be removed, piece by piece, to restore us fully. Further, there are life-changing truths that we can learn no other way. The things of God that are only taught on the anvil of suffering.
God’s chosen people, Israel, have been the picture for those of us underneath His promises. He chose them and made a covenant with them, but they kept drifting. The Old Testament is a cycle of their wandering, His chastening, and their returns.
But prophecies and warnings to Israel and Judah always contain hope. Listen to this word that came through the lips of Jeremiah as God prepared to take them into Babylonian captivity.
For behold, I will save you from afar and your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease, and no one will make him afraid. “For I am with you,” declares the Lord, “to save you. For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly and will by no means leave you unpunished.” (Jeremiah 30:10-11)
God doesn’t leave them wondering. He tells them why this discipline has come …
“Because your iniquity is great and your sins are numerous, I have done these things to you.” (Jeremiah 30:15)
But He covers this with the greatest reality. He reminds them (and us) of the motivation of His heart and the power of His hand.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt.” (Jeremiah 31:3-4)
As always, C.S. Lewis said it best in Mere Christianity.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Are you experiencing God’s disciplining hand? Understand why and respond. Turn from your current folly and pursue the Lord. And don’t make the foolish mistake of believing God merely intends meaningless hurt. He knows what he is about. Every step of the way, embrace the matchless love of God for you. He is everlasting in His love and drawing you with His lovingkindness.
Father, thank You for Your unending love, even in Your discipline. Thank You for the tenacity of Your covenant love. That You intend my good and Your glory. For the comfort of knowing that this process will continue until eternity, but continuously guided by Your perfect hand. And thank You for the sure hope of heaven, where I will be fully restored to Your likeness and forever grateful for your unrelenting care.
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