“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hand heals.” (Job 5:17-18)
I never got to hear the words that many of my friends heard growing up. “Wait until your father gets home.” No, it was my mother that meted out punishment for the many wrongs that I did. Many times that punishment was harsh and excessive. It often did not fit the crime. And yet, even though it was often cruel, I was able to see a love behind it. It wasn’t that my mother had a sadistic streak that took delight in punishing her children. Rather, it was borne out of a desire to see her children walk the straight and narrow, for she knew that “the gate was wide and the path easy that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13).
Now, no one likes to be disciplined. Though my children often didn’t believe me, “it did hurt me more than it hurt them.” Discipline is painful and humiliating. It reminds us that we are flawed and that we have failed. And yet, Job tells us of the blessings of correction. If there is someone who would know about correction, it would be Job. Job found favor in God’s eyes, counted as righteous, so Satan asked to test him. Everything was taken away from him. Of course, we know what Job didn’t: God was not punishing Job because of his wickedness (and he had plenty, to be sure). Rather, God was illustrating his goodness and grace that flows to those who belong to Him. So Job was still able to say “Blessed is the one whom God reproves.” How do we learn to react like him?
Again, discipline is tough. We must never forget that we deserve it. R. C. Sproul answers the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” this way: “That only happened once, and he volunteered.” Just a casual peek into our hearts will confirm the testimony of Scripture. “…there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psa. 53:1-4).
Discipline is tough to take, too. We easily accept a God who loves and provides for us, but we have a difficult time with one who corrects us. Look at the words used here: “Blessed is the one”. Rare is the child who immediately after being disciplined will look to their parents and say, “Thank you.” But the child who is disciplined is thankful for it, though often many years later. That correction provides more than temporary pain. It provides direction and instruction. Sometimes correction is the most loving thing we can do to a person. While we may not understand it when it is happening, we can come to understand it later in life, and even be thankful for it.
Correction is a blessing because it heals. The same hand that wounds binds up. If a parent cares enough to discipline, he will care enough to heal. The parent that doesn’t discipline often doesn’t care enough for the soul of the child, and thus lets the behavior fester because they are unwilling to speak the loving things that bring healing. As the writer of Hebrews points out, “If you are left without discipline…then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb. 12:8). For this reason, he quotes from Proverbs 3: “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.” Thus, “God is treating you as sons.”
The blessings of correction come in many different ways, most of which we never expect. Don’t despise the chastening of the Lord. It is necessary if we are to be conformed to the image of God’s beloved son. And the benefits last a lifetime (and even an eternity). Job went through the toughest challenge. But in the end, God restored and blessed. Though we should not expect that fully in this lifetime, we have an inheritance awaiting us as sons of God that cannot be taken away.