My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
The Holy Bible : Today’s New International Version. 2005 (Pr 3:11–12). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
My oldest daughter was about four when she came to understand that my wife and I were not mad at her when we disciplined her. Discipline comes from a close relationship, and it comes from love, at least ideally. And certainly, when God disciplines us, it is always ideally. We make a mistake when we imagine that discipline means something bad is happening to us. Working out in the gym, running laps, doing push ups, practicing scales, taking piano lessons–these are all disciplines that we might have had to endure. They were not necessarily pleasant, but they are not the same thing as a flat tire or a broken vase. God’s discipline doesn’t mean that he broke something, took away our favorite thing, grounded us, or killed our bunny. It might simply mean we have to keep practicing awhile more before we get to move on to the next stage of things. It means he is working with us to make us better than we were. The author of Hebrews, after quoting this section from Proverbs, wrote:
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate children at all. Moreover, we have all had parents who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12:7-13)