Proverbs 3:11-12 (NKJV)
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
One of the great consolations that attends a deeper awareness of God’s sovereignty and control over all of life – over the good and the bad, the favorable and the unfavorable providences – is the knowledge that no matter what is happening God is in control. God is on His Holy Hill – He shall not be moved. He who causes the constellations to do His bidding shall even so cause the sons of men to go where He wills and do what He desires.
Solomon uses the knowledge of God’s exhaustive sovereignty to comfort his son, to remind his son how to respond to hard providences. He urges him, “Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His corrections.” When hard providences come, don’t kick against the goads; don’t shake your fist at God; don’t be like Job’s wife, cursing God and dying.
Why not? Well here it is necessary to make an important distinction. For those who are in rebellion against God, who do not love Him nor desire to serve Him through Christ, the Scripture offers little comfort. As we read in Psalm 7, God is angry with the wicked every day. In so far as we are in rebellion against God, hard providences are not signs of God’s love and care but His judgment. Our response, therefore, ought not to be to comfort ourselves that this suffering has some purpose but rather to repent and acknowledge that we have failed to love and honor our Creator as we ought.
However, provided that our relationship to God is not one of “rebel to lawful Lord” but rather one of “son to father”, Solomon assures us that the hard providences we face are no longer a sign of His wrath and anger but His love. “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
So what challenges are you facing? What hard providences? Here is Solomon’s word to you: God has you in that situation. Make no mistake about it – God is absolutely sovereign. This situation didn’t catch Him by surprise. He crafted this providence just for you. So the question is, did He craft it just for you because He loves you or because He hates you? That’s the question. Did God put this trial in your path because He loves you or because He hates you? If you are God’s child, trusting in Him through Christ our Lord, then the promise is that He has you there because He loves you. So our call is to trust that He knows exactly what He is doing and that He is orchestrating this for our good.
But we often respond to hard providences in unbelief, do we not? We imagine that we are victims of others’ folly; victims of unseen powers; even victims of our own folly. And no doubt God does sometimes use these means to bring us where we are. But make no mistake – God is the One who brought us here. Hence, the call to endure hard providences is a call to faith – to believe that the God who has given us this hard providence is our Father who loves us and has put this providence in our path for our good and not for our destruction. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, even as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Reminded that we often fail to trust God in the midst of our trials, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.