Is physical suffering the chastening of the Lord?

We defend suffering in our lives because we say it's the chastening of the Lord or disciplining of the Lord, but I have to disagree. I look to scriptures and watch how Jesus "chastened" or "disciplined" His disciples. Also how He chastened or disciplined those that were clearly in the midst of sin, like the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, Saul/Paul, or pretty much the multitude that He looked at and had compassion for.

But back to the disciples who spent the most time around Him as He walked the earth, they didn't have a clue what they were doing, they didn't graduate from Bible school, they didn't have degrees or doctorates, they were picking things up on the fly by being in contact with God in flesh, Jesus Christ. They were learning as they walked with Him, some faster than others, some slower than others. They slipped at times, and God was right there with them, He was right there ready to do His chastening and disciplining up close and personal. Well what did He do?

I don't see them when they lacked faith, Jesus ends up disciplining them by taking their house. When they wanted to call down fire in anger, Jesus didn't chasten them by causing their children to be addicted to drugs. When his disciples were arguing over who would be first, He didn't discipline them by causing emotional pain. When He knew His disciple would betray Him, He didn't discipline that man by taking his health. When He knew His disciple would deny Him 3 times, He didn't chasten him by destroying his marriage.

What did He do? What was His way to chasten or discipline them? Our Savior counseled them and they counseled others. He forgave them and they received the power to forgive. He taught them how to pray and they prayed His will to be done. He had compassion for them and showed them how to have it for others. He built them up so they could build others up. He supported them so they would have the strength to support others. He cared for them giving them a heart to care for others. He showed them the power of healing so they would heal others. He loved them and they found out how to truly love others. He chastened them and disciplined them in these ways EVEN when they fell short so that they would be able to do the same for the rest of His children EVEN when those children fell short. Do you get the point yet?

Even if He spoke sharply, they already knew His character. They watched as He healed many, loved many, accepted many, changed the lives of many. They knew God was love because they watched God as He loved. But they wanted to do things a certain way and He was teaching them another way and it hurt. You still following me? Being corrected in love sometimes hurts. The chastening or discipline of the Lord can hurt, but not how we sometimes perceive pain as suffering and bad things befalling us. It hurts a different way. Starting to get it now?

It hurts our pride. It hurts our belief that we know it all. It hurts our self-image. It hurts our want for revenge. It hurts our want to be angry. It hurts our desire for ungodly responses. It hurts our wanting to let our tongues fly freely. It hurts our wanting to engage in negative sexual situations. It hurts our wanting to defend ourselves. Godly chastening or discipline hurts our flesh!! Immensely!! It is a deep cutting pain in our gut to be chastened and disciplined to handle circumstances or people in our lives as God would, because we have a deep desire ,even being born-again, to give in to negative reactions of the flesh. It hurts to walk in humility and obedience, but that is why we should expect and actually want God's discipline.

Just as our earthly fathers disciplined us in their individual way, God has His own individual way of disciplining and chastening us, we just forgot that just as all fathers are not the same and do things their own way, our Heavenly Father has His own way of doing things. Jesus is our example of how He chastens and disciplines, so keep your eyes on Him. Jesus isn't whipping you with a switch, putting you in time out, or grounding you to your room. He is teaching you how to love your neighbor and that is painful to your flesh. Just try to love the one that just slapped you, stole your spouse, sold your kids drugs, shot up a movie theater, or ran planes into towers and you'll feel the pain first hand if you don't believe it.


Tom Tompkins said…
Great article and powerful truth!

Job is a great example of this as well. Job became angry with God as he blamed God for his struggles (as most Christians do today), yet God did not do anything physically harmful to Job as He dealt with misinformed Job beginning with Job 38:2.

God's verbal discipline of Job ended with Job humbling himself because he likely saw the love of God and knew that God could not have been the source of his terrible trials.

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