Through the Word in 2020 #147 – Nov. 4 / Divine Reluctance


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The Father would rather that we, as His children, not need discipline.

As Lamentations 3:33 reminds us, “He does not afflict from His heart.” He takes no pleasure in our afflictions. He stands ready to forgive. Indeed He only afflicts that we might return and enjoy the abundance of His steadfast love. The “abundance” we are prevented from having while we remain in our sin.

It isn’t that our God does not love us, but that we cannot enjoy the freedom and depth and sweetness and the unfettered love that comes with nothing remaining between us to separate.

He does not afflict willingly. He does so, when He does, only out of love. Not because He has begun to love less.

John 2:13-22; 1 John 2:18-27; and Lamentations 3-Ezekiel 1 fill our reading list today. And the mystery of God’s Divine Reluctance to afflict His children when they obstinately remain in their sin – is on full display.

I’m Reid Ferguson, and this is Through the Word in 2020.

The unique structure of Lamentations points to the unique message it contains. Penned most likely by Jeremiah as he lamented over the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, it is full of grief. And yet, in the dead center of the book – when contemplating the horrors of what their sin had brought them to – we read this: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

How can he say that at this moment? Because knows vs. 33: “He does not afflict from His heart.”

Like any loving parent, but in infinite perfection – our God will discipline us at times. But there is a divine reluctance to do so. And He only does it with our perfect good in His heart. Never out of spite, raw anger, or anything like what so infects and contaminates our human efforts at discipline.

Thy wounds, are good, and right O Lord
No ill attends Thy dealing
Who with each wound in life afflicts
Yet plots my sick soul’s healing

In faithfulness and charity
Thy kind hand works in blessing
Allowing, crafting, crushing more
Thine Image sorely pressing

A softer will I plead O Lord
‘Tis not Your work which harms me
The cold and hardness of my heart
Is what in pain alarms me

Break me, melt me, mold me fully
Spare not each needed turning
Apply the fire of perfect love
Thy loving, cleansing, burning

Till pliable, and yielded up
And stripped of sin’s resistance
The vessel made emerges wrought
Of Love’s divine persistence

O Faithful Lord and Master mine
Make me to show Thy glory
The work of Christ’s redeeming love
Will be my endless story

Thy wounds, are good, and right O Lord
No ill attends Thy dealing
Who with each wound in life afflicts
Yet plots my sick soul’s healing

Think on that today Christian.

It is why your sin is so uncomfortable.

God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.

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