"A Hard Day, and Then Homework!"
Little Johnny came home from school one day, clearly distraught and angry. "What's the matter, sweetheart?" asked his mother. Johnny looked up at his mother with tear-filled eyes. "It's Mrs. Johnson, my teacher!" he responded. "We worked hard all day in class, and now she's loaded us down with homework. I have to copy my spelling words, read a chapter in history, do 15 math problems, and write a paragraph about what I think personal responsibility means." Johnny paused and sighed in disgust. "It will take me at least an hour to do all that!"
Johnny's mother looked at her son with obvious sympathy. "I see what you mean, darling! That is way too much work to do after a full day at school. Now don't you worry about any of it. You just go into the kitchen right now and have a big snack. Then go out and play with your friends until dark. I'll make your favorite supper, and after that, you can watch TV until bedtime. And don't you worry about your teacher. I'll send a note and give that Mrs Johnson a piece of my mind about putting so much work on my little darling!"
Well, little Johnny didn't fall far from the tree, did he? Certainly we read this account with much distaste for Johnny's attitude, but far more, we find his mother to be the source of her son's laziness and irresponsibility. Truly loving parents teach their children to fulfill responsibilities before enjoying pleasures. This is true among people, and it is especially true of our Heavenly Father.
"He openeth also their ear to discipline" (Job 36:10).
We sometimes wonder why God works in our lives as He does. He may lead us along difficult paths whereupon responsibilities and challenges seem overwhelming. We long for respite that doesn't seem to come, regardless of how much we hope and pray. Like Johnny, life feels like a hard day at school, and then homework. Unlike Johnny's mother, however, our Heavenly Father directs us to keep our hand on the wheel of the duties He places before us. He calls us to face our challenges in faith and submission to His purposes. He comforts us in our challenges as we look to Him, but He does not coddle us. Indeed, He loves us far too much for that. And yes, it is love that disciplines rather than delivers. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him" (Proverbs 13:24).
Johnny would not have been pleased had his mother admonished him to fulfill his responsibilities. He would nevertheless have greatly benefitted from the genuine love that emphasizes responsibility over pleasure. As will we, when God's hand seems firm because His heart is so deeply devoted to our best interest. This is the love of reality rather than removal from necessary responsibility. The hard paths of life are paved with Divine love no less than the pleasant, and perhaps even more.
"Thou hast showed Thy people hard things: Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth, that Thy beloved may be delivered."
Weekly Memory Verse
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
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