Last night, my wife had dinner out with a friend. I looked forward to spending the evening with my kids, doing something fun. But one of my kids had a major behavioral malfunction. I had to discipline him. It was the very opposite of fun. Since then, I’ve been thinking about Hebrews 12:6, “the Lord disciplines the one He loves.” Most of the time, I’ve thought about this verse from my side—how discipline isn’t fun for me. Sure, God is putting me through my paces for my good, so I can participate in His holiness (Heb. 12:11). But it’s the last thing I feel like going through.
Parenting has me looking at discipline from another vantage point: God’s. In the aftermath of disciplining my child, I empathized a little more with my Father. I felt disappointed, grieved, and alienated from my child. I imagine that’s a shadow of what God feels when He has to discipline me. How many times has He been enjoying the journey together only to watch me go down a road He wished I hadn’t?
I don’t mean to overly humanize God. But I do think disciplining us affects Him. God is love, and He does what He has to do in love. God would rather open the hands of love to us. But sometimes we need the back of love’s hand, and God loves us enough to provide that as well.
I’m happy to report that my story ends well. In the midst of writing this post, my son came down from his room (where he had been banished the rest of the night) and apologized. I forgave him. We sat together for the next half hour, mostly silent, watching the sun slowly set. There were lots of hugs and kisses. At one point, I told him he was a special boy to me. And, with perfect sincerity, he said, “You’re the best dad in the world.” My heart soared out of whatever depths it earlier sank to.
I’m not the best dad in the world. My son can’t even comprehend the extent of my mistakes when I make them. But my Father in heaven is the best dad in the world, ever. If I can be even a chip of that old block, I will be content.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal” (Ps. 136:1).