“The Lord has corrected me sternly, but He has not abandoned me to destruction.” (Psalm 118:18 Har)
It should go without saying that the Lord handles newborn Christians with “kid gloves.” They cannot handle much so the Lord tends to shield them from overwhelming difficulties. A boxing manager would not throw his new fighter into the ring with a seasoned veteran; a mother would not send her toddler across a busy thoroughfare by himself; and the Lord doesn’t put His baby believers into situations they are not yet prepared to handle.
However, correction is as much a part of the Christian maturing process as it is to the young child. Solomon could have been talking about the Lord’s dealings with His people when he wrote, “If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don’t love him; for if you love him, you will be prompt to punish him… A youngster’s heart is filled with rebellion, but punishment will drive it out of him.” (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15 LB) And, as the writer of Hebrews later pointed out: “If God doesn’t punish you when you need it, as other fathers punish their sons, then it means that you aren’t really God’s son at all—that you don’t really belong in his family.” (Hebrews 12:8 LB)
As members of a race of rebels, there is much within us that must be corrected. If we are left to ourselves, we will nearly always tend to think, speak and act in a way that characterizes the fallen nature. The very fact that it comes so “naturally” points out the need to have one’s mindset continually adjusted. The Lord uses different tools to accomplish this, but, by and large, the most effective means He has to help us to acquire the mind of Christ is through various forms of discipline.
There are those times that we are disciplined because we have committed some outright sin. But just as often, we must “go out to the woodshed” simply as part of the maturing process. Sometimes those bouts of discipline can be very severe. While we fragile humans can’t handle too much adversity, the Lord knows far better than we how powerfully effective such times are to the changing of our natures. There are some times that the Vinekeeper must prune the branch all the back to the Vine. And yet, it is this very kind of severe pruning that always produces the most bountiful crop.
While there are those occasions that the discipline seems to be so overwhelming that the person despairs of life itself, there is an inherent promise found in the psalmist’s testimony: “Yes, the Lord has disciplined me severely, but He will never allow me to be destroyed by it.” In fact, it could easily be argued that His desire to save us from destruction is one of His primary reasons for allowing the discipline in the first place.
As difficult as the Christian life can be at times, what is the alternative? I would rather the Lord thrash me to an inch of my life, nay, I would rather He allowed me to die a violent death, than for Him to allow me to destroy myself through sin and rebellion.
And how about you? How do you respond when the Lord brings correction into your life? Have you learned to see the value of it, or are you still at an early developmental stage of resisting the process?