My father died of a heart attack not long before my third birthday. My only memory of him involves an episode when I crawled underneath the table that served as the support for our old-fashioned 1950s television. I had spotted the electrical cord of the TV plugged into the wall and decided it would be fun to play with.
Strong hands pulled me from beneath the table, and proceeded to apply, shall we say, an educational motivation to my backside. My father wanted to ensure that never again would I expose myself to the danger of an electrical outlet. He did so in a manner that got my attention, and I can unreservedly confess that I've had a healthy respect for electricity ever since that painful, but illuminating moment!
Some might think it sad that the sole recollection of my father involves this difficult experience of corporal discipline. I don't share that perception. Indeed, I think of my dad and smile when I remember that he loved me enough to administer not only the gentle caress, but the firm chastisement.
"For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth" (Proverbs 3:12).
In our present existence, we require God's loving correction as well as His loving encouragement. A life of mere pleasantries provided by His hand would leave us devoid of lessons that can only be learned when our Heavenly Father determines or allows educational pain to direct or redirect our feet along the path of righteousness. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept Thy Word" (Psalm 119:67). He loves us enough to hurt us when necessary, and while I am sure He takes no pleasure in applying the rod, sentimentality does not defer the Lord's devotion to our best interests.
My father loved me. He delighted in me. Both the testimony of family members and the memory of the pain my dad inflicted bear witness in my heart of genuine devotion. Even more, our Father in heaven loves and delights in His trusting children in Christ. His goodness revealed in joyful bestowals of grace confirms this blessed truth over and over and over again. However, His goodness revealed in the determination and allowance of difficulty bears witness no less that we are loved beyond all measure and degree. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for both the tender caress of gentleness and the firm chastening of discipline.
"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"