“Bend over and grab your ankles.” Those words, often spoken by my disciplining daddy, preceded the sound of his belt ratchetting out of his beltloops, and then the dreaded board of education applied to my caboose.
At the time, I might have declared my innocence. I wasn’t. Daddy disciplined me because I was guilty, and he did so to teach me a lesson.
After he warmed my britches, I would fall into his arms, crying. “Okay son, what have you learned?” There was always a purpose, a lesson to be learned.
The writer of Hebrews quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12. “My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives” (Hebrews 12:5–6).
God lovingly disciplines His children. He wants us to fall into His embrace.
“Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:7–11).
Sometimes our trials, tribulations and troubles are God’s discipline. Not always. Remember the blind man. “ ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered” (John 9:2–3). Sometimes our suffering is simply part of living in a sinful and fallen world. At other times, our sufferings are God’s hand of discipline.
After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, God explained the purpose of their difficulties and hardships. “The Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son” (Deuteronomy 8:5). When the Hebrew Nation was hungry, they learned to trust God to send bread from heaven. When they were thirsty, they learned to trust God is send water from a rock. God disciplined them so that they might grow in their faith.
God is still a Father who loves and disciplines His children. “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline” (Revelation 3:19).
So, how can we know when we are experiencing God’s discipline? Listen to the Father! Read His Word! He’ll tell you. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.