Discipline and Love
O LORD, You know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your forbearance take me not away; know that for Your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your Name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because Your hand was upon me, for You had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? Therefore thus says the LORD: "If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before Me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as My mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless."
There was a time when I could not feel God's presence, and I was tempted to imagine He wasn't paying attention. Then I committed a sin—never mind what, exactly!—and it was amazing just how quickly I felt that divine eye swivel and focus on me with all God's attention. Yikes! I was about to get disciplined, and it wasn't going to be fun.
But the odd thing was, there was a certain joy in that. I didn't enjoy the discipline—and yet the fact that God called me on my behavior meant that He cared enough to set me straight. I got what was coming to me—but I also got something else—new evidence that God loved me and cared about my well-being.
Something like that is happening to Jeremiah in today's reading. Jeremiah is hurt and angry, and he's spewing out complaints in every direction. The first thing he asks is for God to pay back his enemies, but to show mercy to Jeremiah himself. Oh dear! That's not very Christian, but it is human. He goes on to complain a great deal more, while God listens patiently.
Then Jeremiah goes too far at last. He turns on God Himself—"Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?"
At this point, God calls a halt. No more of this nonsense! Jeremiah is to repent immediately and speak the truth, not worthless stuff. It's a sharp and fatherly rebuke—and yet the whole thing is shot through with Gospel. "I will restore you ... they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD." Even in the middle of discipline, God is expressing His love.
And that's the love God shows to each one of us through Jesus Christ our Savior. His death on the cross makes it plain that our sin is deadly serious. But it also shows that God Himself is willing to do whatever it takes to reconcile us to Himself and bring us back as His own dear children. He will even die by torture and rise from the dead to get us back again—to get you back again. You are His beloved, and nothing you could ever do will stop Him from loving you and wanting you home.
Dear Lord, thank You that You love me, even when You discipline me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Dr. Kari Vo
1. When have you been properly disciplined?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. What benefit did you get from it?
3. How does God's discipline show his love for you?
When have you been properly disciplined?