First things first. More than worshipping God for the blessings, which He pours into our lives, we need to learn to worship Him, just for what He is! Worshipping Him, awed by His unique attributes is noblest form of worship, for it emanates from the depths of the heart with no strings attached. In this context, let it be said that the driving force for winning a soul to the Lord ought not to be only the need of saving it from scorching hell-fire, but also to acquaint it with the indescribable heavenly joys one is enjoying. None ought to miss out on that!
In this message I intend to bring to the fore, one of our Heavenly Father's sublime qualities. Before announcing the same, I would like to pose a question. As much as we have praised God for being a Doting Dad who readily provides for our needs (Genesis 22:8/14), have we ever praised Him for being a punishing parent, who yearns for our eternal welfare? In case, if we haven't, it's high time we recited the words of the Psalmist "The punishment you gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws." (Ps 119:71 TLB)
Christian life begins with repentance and is sustained by...yes repentance. No Christian can ever shout from rooftops that the moment he accepted the Saviour, he has led a perfect life thence, without ever being put under "course correction" programme by the ever-caring Captain of his life. I, a Servant of God would be the first to accept that I have had my course corrected many a time (saving me from many a hazardous "iceberg") and I owe my spiritual vibrancy (?) today to "timely raps on my knuckles" albeit painful, from my concerned Paradisiacal Pilot.
In this Series of 2-Parts, I would like to package and present a few of the lessons, I had personally learnt from my experiences of Chastisement. At this stage, lest there be any misunderstanding, I would like to state emphatically that punishment in a Christian's life should not be mistaken for the conclusive Judgment awaiting the unbelievers (Rev 20:15), who have all along hardened their hearts to the great Salvation plan of the Saviour (Heb 2:3). So firstly here goes...
How comforting it is to know (the fact validated by Scripture -- See Heb 12:6) that punishment is proof of my living relationship with the Living Heavenly Father, whose other Name is love (1 John 4:8). Because, He has purchased me with His precious atoning blood ((1 Peter 1:18-20), I do not belong to myself but I am owned totally by Him. If there is anyone, who has a right to dictate, on how I ought to behave it is my Saviour. Period.
Those of us who are parents, would we dare show our care to a stranger who goes around, say, chain-smoking? Would we take a step to restrain him? Most of us would hesitate to even warn that errant soul, for fear of hearing an instant "Mind your own business" reprisal. On the other hand, what about our own sons? If we see them getting into any debilitating habit, would we not immediately take corrective action? We would because we have the right over them...for their own welfare.
Our Heavenly Father invariably toes the "a stitch a time, saves nine" principle. Not for Him, any procrastination, if we veer off-course in our Spiritual voyage. He would catch our attention immediately with a timely, painful warning (Isaiah 30:20-21). Without intending to point my finger at anyone, I would like to present some examples from my own life-experiences'...all for His Glory and His glory alone. Whilst being employed in a Oil major, one morning whilst rushing off to work, I was needlessly harsh with my wife once (who is such a submissive woman, all in line with Scripture -- See Eph 5:22) and you guessed it right!!! Even before 24 hours had lapsed, I got a lashing from my own earthly boss. If not for that timely chastisement, I would have continued to be a insensitive husband and only the Heavenly Father knows where it might have led to.
Many years ago (May, 1988 to be precise...I had just finished my formal education), I, who would always resist lustful thoughts, lowered my guard for just a while. The result? Almost immediately I was given into the hands of the tormenting spirit. I learnt firsthand how King Saul suffered when the tormenting spirit from "the Lord" tormented him (1 Samuel 16:14)! Only when I fell flat (literally and figuratively) at His feet, tearfully confessing my sins, did the tormenting spirit leave me for good. Honestly, if not for that prompt Divine intervention, I shudder at the thought of how deeper, I would have fallen...
The spinoff from that experience of Divine comeuppance? I emerged "stronger" in faith (Heb 12:11) that my omniscient Redeemer (Heb 4:13) who keeps track of even my thought-life, would know all about my future problems too...hence He would be right there to help me handle them, as per His will.
Yes it pains Him to inflict pain upon us but what is punishment if it is not painful (Heb 12:11) bringing about the desired effect? It is painful enough to register that the next time temptation "rings the doorbell" to take us off-track, we would not go anywhere near the door rather send the Saviour to answer the bell, meaning we would lean on his strength to overcome (James 4:7) the allurements of the flesh or the World or Mr. Devil himself (three enemies of a Pilgrim, when he is making progress...thanks Mr. John Bunyan).
Prayer: Father, we commit ourselves into Thy hands even as you
training us with a purpose. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
(To access the entire "No Pain, No Gain!" mini-series, please click here!)