The story has been told about a very devoted Christian woman who wrote in the margin of her Bible some very helpful words: “The Christian life is like the dial of a clock. The hands are God’s hands, passing over and over again; the short hand of discipline and the long hand of mercy. Slowly and surely the hand of discipline must pass, and God speaks at each stroke. But over and over passes the hand of mercy, showering down a 12-fold blessing for each stroke of discipline and trial. Both hands are fastened to one secure pivot: the great unchanging heart of our loving God.”
This vivid description should remind us that all believers in Christ Jesus must experience divine chastening at times. The Father is “child-training” us to promote spiritual growth in our lives. Although He wants us to be happy, He is more concerned about making us holy. He desires that we “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), and in this process, He must correct us. This may be very painful at times, for “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous” (Hebrews 12:11). Yet, He always does this in love and compassion. How good it is to know that our Father’s other hand, His hand of mercy, never fails, but endures forever! It takes His hand of mercy as well as His hand of discipline to help us grow spiritually.
A farmer knows if he wants to plant a garden the soil must first be broken up first. Even the most productive land must be turned over and tilled. Otherwise, growth is most difficult, if not impossible. My beloved, God sometimes prepares the soil of our hearts to receive His Word by a breaking-up process. It may be through a disaster like a hurricane, flood, or fire. Other times it may come through sickness, disappointment, or deep sorrow. If you have been experiencing trouble or even heartache, God may be softening the soil of your life so that the seed of His Word can grow.
Proverbs 3:11-12 puts it this way, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Just as earthly parents who care about their children disciplines them and as God’s children, we must also experience discipline so that we may mature spiritually and grow in character. You see, our character is vitally important to God so He tenderly pulls the weeds, cuts off the dead flowers, and prunes the branches in the garden of our blossoming character. Yes, the process can be painful, but the result will be a character that is wise, mature, content, and more importantly pleasing to God.
God’s chastening is corrective but never cruel.