Grappling with Divine Discipline

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"For I am with you and will save you,” says the LORD.“I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not completely destroy you.I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”

Jeremiah 30:11

When I was younger, verses like Jeremiah 30:11 perplexed and disturbed me. Of course, I felt encouraged by the fact that God was with his people and would save them. But I wasn't too keen on the idea that God would destroy the nations that preyed upon Israel. And I could not understand why, if God was with his people to save them, he felt it necessary to punish them. Punishment, it seemed to me, was inconsistent with the love and mercy of God. Why couldn't he just forgive and forget? Why would God want to inflict pain on his people?

Today, I don't delight in God's discipline. And certainly don't seek it out. But I do understand it more than I once did. This understanding comes, not only from years of reflecting on Scripture, but also from my experience as a parent who has upon occasion punished his children. Punishment, to be effective, requires pain of some sort. When, for example, one of my children showed blatant disrespect to me and I took away some beloved privilege as punishment, they felt bad. The hurt helped them learn how to treat the eldersand their father, in particularappropriately.

But I never enjoyed disciplining my children. Sometimes I almost think the old adage was true: "This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you." Yet I knew that my duty to my children included discipline. In fact, because I loved them, I chose that which was painful for them and for me.

So, though I don't cherish verses like Jeremiah 30:11and I don’t know too many people who doI do see their importance. By God's grace, I am able to read Jeremiah 30:11 through the lenses of my parental experience as well as the wise counsel of Scripture. I now see with greater clarity, the truth of Proverbs 3:11-21:

My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the LORD corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.


  • How do you respond to verses like Jeremiah 30:11?
  • Why do you respond this way?
  • How do you envision God's discipline?
  • How have you experienced it in your life?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, first of all, I want to thank you today for the way you help me to understand you. It's certainly true, as you said through Isaiah, that your ways are not my ways (55:8-9). Yet you have graciously helped me to know you, however imperfect my comprehension. Thank you!

Moreover, I want to thank you, Lord, for caring about me enough to discipline me. Now I'm not too keen about this aspect of your love for me, but, as a parent, I do understand it. Nevertheless, I would ask for the grace to live in such a way that discipline isn't needed. You know I'm not too fond of pain, Lord.

Finally, I thank you for being with me and saving me. You have been good to me beyond all measure. All praise be to you! Amen.