I can remember being disciplined by my parents. Sometimes it was a spanking, restriction of privileges, or a stern lecture. Normally, I knew exactly what the issue was. I did the wrong thing, and I was being punished for that specific deed.
On this earth, parents are fallible, discipline and punishment can be abused, so we have to be careful how we view discipline from the Lord. Parents should discipline a child because they love their child, and in their wisdom, they know that a particular behavior is not healthy. For example, lying is not acceptable behavior and telling the truth is a far better way to conduct one’s life.
So how do I know if God is disciplining me? Let me suggest that if you are being disciplined by God, it will be obvious to you. Just like I mentioned above, I knew exactly why my parents were disciplining me, so it is with God’s discipline. I also know that I tried to hide from my parent’s discipline, because the consequences were painful. It is also our nature to hide from God’s discipline. It is important for me to learn to respond to God’s discipline with repentance, and with His help, to correct the problem.
Here’s the tough question. If something bad happens to me, is it because God is disciplining me, or is God mad at me, or has He forgotten me? First, let’s establish that nothing, good or bad, happens to us without God’s purpose or knowledge. Ultimately, everything will work out for God’s glory. The problem is that we aren’t privy to the details, this side of heaven. As a result, we must trust each event to God’s wisdom and purpose whether we understand it or not.
To answer the question then, if bad things happen to us because of God’s discipline, it will be obvious to us and we should respond with repentance. If it is not obvious, we should ask for God’s help, understanding that He has a purpose for leading us through such a trial. In either case we should humbly look for the opportunity to grow in grace.
Dear Lord, If you are disciplining me for specific sin, help me to humbly repent. In all things, good or bad, let me praise you for daily grace, and understand that all things work together for good for those who are called according to your purpose. Amen.
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