I believe I mentioned the following earlier in the year but felt it prudent to once again visit the idea. What idea you ask? It has to do with a song we sing so often with joy and enthusiasm that is linked to our theme verse for this year. It goes like this, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” It is hard to imagine that the song we sing with such joy is, in reality, not such a joyous song; but rather, a lament.
The word lament means a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Jeremiah, as he gazes upon the remnant of God’s people faced with such adversity and heartache due to their disobedience, pens these words as though he was grasping for something so difficult to see. Matthew Henry writes, “When we are in distress we should, for the encouragement of our faith and hope, observe what makes for us as well as what makes against us. Things are bad but they might have been worse, and therefore there is hope that they may be better.” David knew all too well of God’s discipline, “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me, my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:4). In a world that sees discipline through humanistic lenses, such action, if by a god, shows the opposite of what Jeremiah pens; that is, no loving, merciful and faithful god would ever do such a thing. So, some may be left with a question, “Why would He do such a thing to His chosen?”
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be
discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord
loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives.
I am compelled to share the ETRV once again and I ask that you give it pause when you read it, “My child, don’t think it is worth nothing when the Lord punishes you, and don’t stop trying when the Lord corrects you.” These words could have been spoken to the children of Israel by Jeremiah in Lamentations as they were confronted with the consequences of their choices. It is so easy to throw the towel in when faced with enormous difficulty. It is true that we can take great comfort in knowing that God is a forgiving God, but He is also in the business of transformation. His love for us demands such radical and at times difficult involvement. The writer of Hebrews reasons, “we have had human fathers who corrected us” (Hebrews 12:9), so it makes sense that God will as well. We know all too well, “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful” (Hebrews 12:11). This reality is seen in the words of Jeremiah, “I am a man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath” (Lamentations 3:1). The history of God’s people within our bibles, the history of my own selfish life at times, has revealed a Father so passionately in love with His creation, with me, that He would do anything to help them learn; thus, that is the reason for discipline.
…afterward it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
So, why does a merciful God, who loves us so much, discipline us when we stray? The answer is simple, He wants what is best for us…for me! He knows that if we allow Him to work in our lives, train us in this life, that the result will be “peaceable fruits of righteousness.” God wants our best and will do what is needed to bring it about. So, I guess we are left with another question; that is, what am I going to do when He disciplines me?