I usually hear or read where people quote scripture from the Old Testament that substantiates their reasoning that God is uncaring, a hater, or just plain ready to throw a lightning bolt at us whenever we make mistakes or fail in life. Or they have a mindset from previous experiences with their own father or “guardian” relationship. Maybe they had an overbearing father that could never be pleased, or one that never shows any emotion toward them or never says, “I love you.” And there are others that don’t even have a relationship with an authority figure at all. If they actually know their dad, they are non-existent in their lives when it came to raising them.
I was raised in a home with a single mom, and although she genuinely tried to wear all the hats, it just wasn’t possible. My mom was a very tough lady, but also incredibly gentle. This was a characteristic that I learned to manipulate at a young age and therefore never really experienced any direct discipline from her. I would usually just smile or laugh and she would forget all about it. If she did move forward with grounding or disciplining me, she would almost in no uncertainty, let me off the hook. But she did love me. And her life of serving and loving God was yet another example of how I should live. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I realized this component was missing in my life and at age 19, I accepted Christ.
Even after my new found relationship with Christ, I personally struggled with the “disconnect” of a Heavenly Father that I didn’t really know and all of a sudden wanted to be a part of my life. I struggled with the idea that God truly loved me, yet sat by for 19 years and watched our family struggle in every way possible. I ultimately figured that I had probably messed up in too many ways growing up, that some of His promises just wouldn’t apply to me. Now, even though I knew Him and genuinely loved Him, my past was still my past and clearly God knew all about it. And as a new believer in Him, when I screwed up, He couldn’t possibly still love me. I heard someone recently say that the Grace of God is Him giving you what you need, NOT what you deserve! Today I am thankful for the grace of God in my life and recognize Him as the loving Father that I personally never experienced growing up. But it hasn’t always been rainbows, lollipops and unicorns as my husband would say, but God has brought multiple times of correction, rebuke and life training experiences that I didn’t like nor understood.
When we experience pain, hurts, hardships or struggles, the viewpoint that God is mad at us or teaching us a lesson is a normal thought process. Especially if you’ve read any of the Old Testament. The Old Testament shows an angry God with His creation and Jesus was the final sacrifice that literally took all the punishment of sin onto Himself once and for all. I mean literally, He died FOR ALL!
Now I realize there are New Testament scriptures too, like in the book of Hebrews; but knowing that you have a loving father, who cares for you, wants to see you succeed, has a desire to finish all the good that He started in you, I personally feel those scriptures are usually taken out of context and misrepresented. I do know that God disciplines those that He loves. As a parent disciplines their children because they love them and want them to learn right from wrong. Sometimes we as parents use the word “punishment” when disciplining our children, but God does not. There is a difference. Discipline requires training and the potential of a heart change, punishment is just the penalty being paid, no training involved. Through Jesus, the price for our punishment was paid.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews, wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. He explains that Jesus’s sacrifice for sin was complete and for all believers. No sacrifice of any kind for sin was ever needed again. He followed that up with example after example of how the life of faith has always been difficult for the saints.
Then he quoted Proverbs 3:11-12
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
“It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons,” he said. The Hebrew people were not to interpret their painful experiences as God’s angry punishment for their sins. That angry punishment was completely spent on Jesus — once and for all — nailed to a cross. Rather, this was the message they were to understand from their hardships: God loves you! He has fatherly affection for you. He cares deeply for you.
It is crucial that we remember that everything God feels toward us as Christians is gracious. Even when God disapproves of sinful behaviors and habits and thoughts and disciplines us, it is a precious form of His favor. It’s what a loving father does.
God is not giving us what we deserve because what we deserve was nailed to the cross. Instead, He is training us in righteousness.
Because He loves us so very much.