This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-4 will be posted on succeeding days.
God Loves His Children Enough to Discipline Them
Scripture teaches in both Old and New Testaments that God chastens (disciplines) His children because He is a Father to them, and that this chastening is motivated by His love. Solomon recorded in Proverbs, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Pro. 3:12 NKJ) God loves His children enough to correct them, because He delights in them! And again, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” (Pro. 13:24 NKJ)
Moses specifically admonished Israel with the same concept prior to their entrance into the land. He knew that as Israel invaded this land, they would face many battles and hardships in order to gain a foothold. They would then occupy what belonged to an immoral people who cared nothing for them. The wilderness wanderings culminated with the invasion into Canaan, and many would wonder if God was really for Israel or not. Moses wrote, “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.” (Deut. 8:5 NKJ) Battles are part of life.
Scripture Warns the Christian How to Respond to God’s Loving Discipline
Solomon admonished his own son regarding how he should respond to the Lord’s correction. Correction is not pleasant, but often necessary in order to bring us into conformity to the image of Jesus. Solomon wrote, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction.” (Pro. 3:11 NKJ) The writer of Hebrews quoted this motivation because many Christians were leaving their new found faith and returning back to Jewish Old Testament mandates. As a consequence, the Lord chastened them for returning to the Law and the sacrificial system of living. He wrote they should not despise that chastening, but should endure it, knowing that they were legitimate children of the Most High Father,
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (Heb. 12:5-8 NKJ)
John recorded the Lord’s words in Revelation that the Christian should not only respond by accepting the Lord’s correction, but enthusiastically receive it and repent,
18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Rev. 3:18-19 NKJ)
Hence, humble dependence on the Lord is always the right response, even in suffering.