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April 23, 1997

It Might Hurt, but the Love Never Leaves

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If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. PSALM 89:30-33
If you’ve ever taken care of children—either yours or someone else’s—you know that kids will do things for which they need to be punished. It’s just part of life, part of the pattern that began when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.
As God’s children, it’s also inevitable that we also will do things for which we need to be punished. As we see from this passage, God’s discipline isn’t especially comfortable—there’s nothing particularly nice about a flogging. But God is in the business of providing individualized instruction and discipline that is designed to help us return to Him as quickly as possible. In other words, even when it hurts, God’s discipline really is for our own good.
In a way, it’s like getting a performance review at work. If the boss truly has our best interests at heart, he or she will give negative feedback as well as positive; otherwise, we would never improve. A poor manager never bothers to correct his employees, while a manager who gives feedback that it honest yet gentle is an excellent boss indeed.
The good news, spiritually speaking, is found in Psalm 89:33: No matter how hard the discipline, God will never—under any circumstance, conceivable or otherwise—take His love from us or be unfaithful to us. As Romans 8:38 says, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As a result, even when the discipline is particularly painful, we truly are able to smile through our tears.

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