“I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” Psalms 119:75
The subject of chastisement is never an easy one to study or discuss. No Christian likes to acknowledge that God is or has been disappointed in their actions to the point that He has had to discipline them.
I have found that if I truly want to be “conformed into the image” of Christ, then God has to whittle away my wrong thinking and actions. When I submit to His hand, I understand that He is doing what He needs to do in my life to draw me closer to Him in my thinking and my living. But when I rebel against His hand of chastisement, it further prolongs the process.
I am not sure why I rebel against Him at times, because I know He is doing it for my good and His glory.
The psalmist makes an important statement at the beginning of today’s verse. You’ll notice that he is NOT rebelling, but acknowledging that what God is doing in his life is perfect and right. I can learn from this, and I can alter my prayers from whining and complaining about His heavy hand to a more submissive plea of, “thy will be done”.
Several years ago when I was homeschooling all four of my children, one of them filled in their school book with song lyrics. As I checked their homework I opened up this particular child’s pace and began skimming the questions and answers. It didn’t take but a couple of seconds for me to realize what they had been doing. I gathered all their subjects and found that in each book, the answers were just words from songs. I waited until Mark arrived home for dinner and we had all eaten before I called this one child to stay at the table. As we went through their books, this particular child didn’t seem to care that they had been caught. Their attitude became one of rebellion as the minutes wore on. We explained that until they repented of what they had done and their attitude, we would break fellowship with them and they could remain in their room and not eat or participate in anything but a bath, school and church.
Honestly, I thought this child would have broken under the pressure of both Mark and I staring at them as we waited for a response, but they sat there in complete and utter rebellion against us. We disciplined them and sent them off to their room.
I cried as I went about getting the house ready to close up for the night. We were living on a farm and it was warm, so the windows had been open to allow a breeze to come through. I wept and prayed as I pushed each window shut and pulled the curtains together. I waited to hear footsteps coming down the hall and an apologetic voice calling my name, but it didn’t happen and my heart felt like it was breaking into a million pieces. None of my children had ever pushed their stubborn way that far with us and I was aching inside as a mother.
Do you know this child went several days without giving into what was right? It was difficult to withhold food and fellowship from them. It took everything in me to stick by the punishment their father had passed down, but God helped me. Everyone in the family was sad as we all felt out of sorts waiting for it to be over. Eventually, they came to us and made things right. After careful guidance in the Scripture we were able to restore our fellowship together and peace once more reigned in my home.
Why did I have to discipline and break fellowship with that child? Was it because of anger? No, it was because I knew that if the rebellion was allowed to continue, the actions would become far worse than sloughing off in school work and the consequences could become far greater and heavier. It was out of love and wisdom that I had to stand my ground as a mother. It was a course of chastisement performed with carefulness that I used to guide my child toward the right way.
Did we all still dwell in the same house? Yes. Was I still their mother? Yes. Did I hate them? No. Did I care about their life? Yes.
Eventually, discipline brought about peace and new understanding.
When that child acknowledged that what we were doing was for their good and that they had actually done wrong, there was balance to the scales. We had performed our duties as parents in justice, and our child had come back to accept that we were right. And peace returned.
God has to work on us, or else He would be a liar because the Bible says He has begun a good work in us and will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). And sometimes that work involves chastisement when we get out of the line of His Word and what It teaches us.
The choice to submit or rebel is left entirely up to us.
When you feel God’s hand pressing in your life and you recognize it as chastisement, do yourself a BIG favor and submit to it. Agree with Him and confess any sin you have. Tell God that you are okay with what He is doing and want His justice if it means you will be drawn closer to Him because of it.
I know this is tough to do at times because pain makes us want to wriggle until it’s over, but we are far better off to keep our fellowship with Him than to rebel and become bitter and dry inside as a child of God.
Dwell in Him and in His Word, even if this time in your life is one of pressing and chastisement. He doesn’t leave you alone while He smoothes those rough edges. He is lovingly guiding you through the experience all the while pointing in the direction you need to go and He will provide you with the wisdom you need to live each moment.
He is faithful and He is good. He can’t be anything less. Just trust Him that He knows what He is doing.
Until Next time, Lord willing,