This is Part 4 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?”
God Always Disciplines in Love
Not only is God’s motivation for discipline from love, but also how God disciplines is from His love and completed in love. The prophet Amos recorded how God disciplined Israel in love,
6 “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 7 “I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, but they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 9 “I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, Your vineyards, Your fig trees, And your olive trees, The locust devoured them; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 10 “I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; Your young men I killed with a sword, Along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 11 “I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:6-12 NKJ)
The manner of Divine discipline was not a big “paddle” or some other miraculous punishment. They were acts of nature God used to gain Israel’s attention. Israel had a choice to repent before a worse condition might develop as described in Leviticus 26. There are five cycles of discipline for the nation of Israel, although these have not been applied directly on nations in the Church Age. However, when incidents occur like natural events a nation and people should examine themselves for sin and repentance. There is no reason God might not use these types of disciplines.
God’s Discipline does not Lessen God’s Love
God’s love is pictured in His discipline. Its purpose is to develop holiness, to create a thirst for intimacy and to instill contentment with the presence of God. His discipline awakens us out of prideful slumber and lethargy. Where repentance is necessary, the believer is restored to a child-like trust in Almighty God.
God chastens believers in order to mature them. Examples can be found in such places as Proverbs (3:11; 13:24; 15:5), the prophets (Zeph. 3:7), and the New Testament (Heb. 12:7). The Scriptures are clear that this kind of disciplinary suffering comes from God who loves us and operates in a way that is akin to an honorable father who corrects and matures his children. While this kind of suffering is not pleasant at the time, later we see the effects of God’s work and thank him for loving us so much that he continually works for our growth in holiness and fruitfulness.
Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering? Yes and always for blessing to the person for eternity sake and glory.
1) Why does it seem difficult to think that love would impose suffering?
2) When does discipline change from love as its motivation to unjustness?
3) What are several current day historical examples of discipline that is given from love?
4) Is a difficulty of understanding how love could motivate discipline, be as a result of misunderstanding the character of God?
5) How would you explain the interaction of love and holiness in discipline to a young person?
This concludes this question.