The Suffering God - One Year Devotions for Men - February 6

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years. - Isaiah 63:9

In the old days fathers were allowed to spank their children without being charged with child abuse. As those fathers prepared to administer whatever punishment they deemed necessary, they would tell the offending child, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!” No child ever believed it. But years later these children became parents, and they began to understand the pain a father feels.

Throughout her troubled history, Israel had frequently felt the Lord’s displeasure and had been subjected to his discipline. It was Israel’s fault entirely. God’s “unfailing love,” His “great goodness,” and His “mercy” were abundantly evident (Isa. 63:7)—so much so that the Lord had said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not be false again” (63:8). But they were—and he was obliged to discipline them once again.

In their distress, God’s people complained. They questioned him, wanting to know where he was during their affliction (63:11-13). They recounted the ways that he had saved and led, provided and cared for them, and they wondered where their great Savior had gone (63:18-19). It apparently did not occur to them to ask, “What have we done to cause such a sad situation?” They preferred to ask, “Where has he gone? What is he doing?”

The answer to that question was that he was not distant, although he had withdrawn from them. In case they thought he might be remote, they needed to know that “in all their suffering he also suffered” (63:9). The Lord was certainly a father who disciplined, but it hurt him more than it hurt them! Not that his children believed it—but it was true!

Discipline is not designed for the benefit of the one handing it out. It is not a God-given means of venting frustration. When properly administered, it is supposed to bring about the disciplined person’s reformation. The heart of the one doing the disciplining should be set on the well-being of those being disciplined. Without it, they would continue in their mistaken ways. A father’s love requires that they be reproved. But a father’s loving heart cannot help but feel the anguish of their suffering.

Remember: Next time you receive the Lord’s discipline, don’t complain. It hurts him more than it hurts you.

For Further Study: Isaiah 63:7-14  

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