Today’s Scripture readings: Psalms 6 & 12, Jeremiah 15:10-21, Philippians 3:15-21, John 12:20-26
Today’s writer: Charles Strohmer
What struck me when I read Psalm 6 was David’s deep anguish over being disciplined by the Lord. Apparently it was so severe that he thought he might even die as a result (v. 5). We don’t talk much about God the Disciplinarian during Lent, perhaps because our gaze is focused on what our Lord has done for us and not on our own suffering. But maybe, like the psalmist, we should talk about it.
The Father disciplines those he loves, although you never know for “how long, O Lord, how long” will this last (v. 3)? I’ve been in God’s woodshed more than once, sometimes for extended periods, usually after having devised the most sophisticated “biblical” self-talk to fend off the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit about particular sins. But who can fence with God?
Woodsheds are places of anguish, places where the soul grieves and cries to God, and most of all, places where hope is needed. Let’s talk about that, too. For even grievous discipline is not the end of the story for the Father’s children. And so, in deep pain and great darkness, David discovers the faithfulness of God and hope arises. The Lord has heard my weeping, my cry for mercy, my prayer (vv 8-9).
No child of the Father’s gets a free pass to holiness. Such discipline is part of what our Lord has done for us. If you know someone who is in anguish, think about sharing the hope of the Father’s faithfulness to you when you were under his discipline. Someone may need reminding, even during Lent.
Charles, some of us will not listen to God until he punches us in the nose! I wonder how God feels about disciplining us. As a father, I never took any pleasure when I disciplined my children. As necessary as it might be, the old phase “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you” was certainly true in my case. How much worse must it be for our loving Father?
Thanks Charles. Good word. Makes me think of word catachesis which actually has to do with the word sounding down. In my own walk, this sounding down has broken me in ways that I won’t recover from, but also in ways that led me into more peace and joy and rest in God’s goodness.
Very well said, Doug. Too bad catachesis has been reduced to the head knowledge of “religious instruction.” What you’re on about recaptures true religious instruction! I.e., God breaking in on us with more alien ways of his gospel. It is what I call post-conversion grace. But as the initial alien meeting, we are not the same ever after. Thank God!