And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” —Hebrews 12:5-6 (ESV)
How can God be both sovereign and loving? There is no doubt suffering exists in the world. If He could not stop the suffering, God would not be sovereign. But if He can stop it and doesn’t, how can God be loving? Here is what we need to comprehend. If God does not seem loving, it is because of our definition of loving, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Sometimes our perceptions need a reality check from God’s Word.
God’s love is not a pampering love—it’s a perfecting love. He does not spend each day thinking about how to put a bigger smile on your face. God’s love designs a plan to deliver the highest usefulness out of your life because He’s in the process of growing and changing you.
Hebrews 12:6 states, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” In fact, if you’re without God’s discipline, the Bible says you are not really one of His children. When you’re experiencing His discipline, God sees the big picture while you can only see a part of it. Sometimes in His sovereignty, God decides (and who can explain it?), I will allow this.
Yet consider how often God protects us. Who would say, “Every terrible thing that could possibly happen to me has happened”? If you think that, you’re wrong. God promises that He always allows circumstances for a purpose. Rather than making the world perfect, God has sovereignly chosen to make the world free. He shows His strength and glory by giving His presence during trials to those who love Him.
Believers go through the same things people who don’t know Him go through. But God brings glory to Himself through the contrast made by His presence. Bad things do happen to good people. God is sovereign even over that. And His ways are always loving.
What circumstances in your life right now do you need to trust are part of His perfecting love?
What do you need to do to respond in faith?
Father, as I seek to understand Your loving discipline, I want to “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that [I] may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3). Your Son went through both the highs and lows of the entire human experience without complaint for Your glory. How can I claim to be Your child and expect anything less from Your wise and loving hand? Teach me to trust Your sovereign will, and lean into whatever You allow in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.