He goes to the forest — and chooses the most suitable 'rod' to correct us!
(James Smith, "Divine Chastening" 1859)
"You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son — so the Lord your God chastens you." Deuteronomy 8:5
Our heavenly Father loves us just as much when He frowns — as when He smiles upon us.
The Lord Himself chastens His children. He never allows His children to be flogged by others, nor keeps a drill-sergeant to do it. He Himself chastens every redeemed child.
He selects the instrument. He does not take up a rod that may 'by chance' lay before Him–just because it comes first to hand. No, no! He goes to the forest — and chooses the most suitable 'rod' to correct us! Proud man always imagines that God . . .
has chosen the wrong rod,
or strikes on the wrong place,
or corrects at the wrong time.
But depend upon it — it is all right. If He . . .
strikes the body,
or seizes the property,
or removes the family member,
or alienates the friend,
or afflicts the soul —
it is all done in infinite wisdom, and perfect love.
He numbers His strokes. Not one too many, nor one too few — but just the right number is appointed. LESS would not humble the proud heart, bend the stubborn will, or turn back the wandering feet. MORE would unduly depress, give Satan an occasion against us, or harden our hearts. Believer, you shall never have one more stroke than your Heavenly Father has appointed — nor will He appoint one more than is necessary!
He marks the effects of the rod. He watches to see the effect produced by every stroke. If we fall at His feet, humble ourselves before Him, confess our sins, and appeal to His mercy — we take hold of His strength, and the chastisement soon ceases.
Sanctified correction always . . .
brings us nearer to God,
softens our spirits,
humbles our hearts,
produces penitence, and
leads us to admire the wisdom and love of God.
Chastisement is designed to improve our characters — these, at best, are very imperfect. In order therefore to make us more watchful, prayerful, diligent, and devout — our heavenly Father uses the rod. And, if at any time we are left long without it, we become . . .
conformed to the world,
and carnally minded.
When the tear of penitence is seen in our eye — the rod soon drops from His hand! Or, if the discipline is continued — then such comfort, peace, and meekness flow into the soul — that we call it sweet affliction, and bless His dear name for it.
Nor can we then pray for the removal of the rod — but only for its deeper sanctification. We creep close to His feet, look up in His paternal face, catch His loving eye — and almost swoon with pleasure, humility, and love!
He makes the rod beneficial to us. He corrects us, not for His pleasure — but for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. He uses the rod . . .
to convince us of our folly,
to keep us sensible of His authority,
to make us smart for our inconsistencies,
to bring us to repentance, and
to make us cautious, tender, and humble.
Whatever end He fixes upon — is beneficial; and whatever end He fixes upon — He will bring to pass. So that we may well say, even when smarting under the rod, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
He loves us too well, to give us any unnecessary pain — and He is too wise to allow our follies to go uncorrected.