195. GOD’S CHASTENING HAND
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
Having been chastened on different occasions by the Lord and to varying degrees in my life thus far, whenever I see the term mentioned in the Bible, it gets my attention. For, it reminds me of those times when God saw it fit to break me, to allow things to happen in my life which I did not like and which were even humiliating but which he deemed necessary.
In looking up the term ‘chastening’ or what it means to be chastened, I found different definitions but all along the same theme. These definitions defined chastening as meaning:
- To suffer rebuke or misfortune, which results in a restraining or humbling effect;
- To be corrected or purified by punishment or suffering;
- To prune something, such as a work or style of art, of excess, pretense, or falsity;
- To cause to be more humble, subdued or restrained;
- To make someone understand that they have failed or done something wrong and make them want to improve.
As one who has been chastened, all of these definitions provided in secular dictionaries, capture some essence of what it means to be chastened. However, to properly and fully understand chastening, it is important to understand what the Bible, which is God’s book to us, has to say about it.
If we turn to Hebrews 12:5-14, it states:
- “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
- Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
- Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord…”
What can we learn about chastening from this scripture? What is it as defined in God’s Word the Bible and what is its purpose?
Well, the scripture above highlights nine (9) very important points about chastening, as follows:
POINT 1 – Chastening comes FROM THE LORD.
The first line of verse 5 states, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”
Your misfortune or adverse circumstance may not have just happened to happen therefore and what you may be going through at this very moment, may not be on account of the devil. If you are being chastened, then what is happening in your life is not due to happenstance, circumstance, any other kind of ‘stance’, fate, bad luck or sheer coincidence. If you are a child of God and you are being chastened, it is from the Lord, meaning that HE has allowed the adversity, the problem and the pain. HE has brought the suffering into your life.
POINT 2 – Chastening is meted out to only those who BELONG TO THE LORD.
This is evident in the first line of verse 5, which states, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”
In the Bible, chastening is distinguished from just punishment, in that it is only applicable to those who are in covenant with God through Jesus Christ his Son and are therefore his children. God punishes people in the world who have no relationship with him and have not been adopted into his royal family as sons and daughters but he chastens his children. He also punishes people in the world who are not his own, for their wickedness but he chastens his child out of love, so that that child would see the error of his or her way, repent and change what needs to be changed.
If you do not belong to the Lord therefore, even if you think you do, God may punish you in this life but he will not chasten you. For, chastening is reserved for those with whom he has a special love and relationship with, through Jesus Christ his Son. That is, chastening is reserved for only those who are part of the body of Christ and a part of his heavenly family.
POINT 3 – When being chastened, God does not want us to DESPISE OR HATE the chastening.
It is easy when going through something painful and even shameful, to become bitter and to hate the fact that we are going through it, especially when it attracts ridicule and gossip. We tend to hate the circumstance which is making us cry so and regard it with disdain. However, God’s Word tells us that we should not hate the chastening. His aim is to make us better, not bitter.
The first line in verse 5 therefore states, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”
While we will not love or embrace the chastening because it hurts us to the core therefore, we must be careful not to have hatred in our hearts toward it because it did not just arrive on our doorstep randomly or by chance. It was allowed into our lives by the Lord and everything the Lord does and wills, is right and just.
POINT 4 – When being chastened, God does not want us to behave as if we are HOPELESS AND DO NOT HAVE THE STRENGTH to go on.
The scripture admonishes, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him…if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons”.
When we are being chastened therefore, God does not want us to feel hopeless, as if all is lost, as if we are doomed and that we do not have what it takes to bear it. In short, we must not despair of life as many of the ungodly do when going through something difficult and think that we will not make it. God wants us to endure the chastening and to go through it for as long as he sees fit and this requires us to have a good attitude during that chastening. It requires us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, even in the middle of that chastening, which he has allowed to come or sent into our lives.
POINT 5 – When being chastened, God wants us to know that chastening is EVIDENCE OF SON-SHIP and therefore a privilege, even though it is painful.
As stated before, not everyone is chastened. This is reserved for only those who genuinely belong to the Lord. It is therefore a hallmark of every Christian. It is a sure indicator that a person is saved and one of God’s elect.
God’s Word makes it clear that if we do not belong to him, he will not chasten us and if he allows us to just live our lives the way we want it without intervening to chasten us, then this means that we are not his children. We do not belong to him but to satan. Those that are outside his royal family are left to their own exploits to their detriment, until God is ready to punish them or the devil destroys them. Such people do not belong to God’s fold and so he calls them ‘bastards’.
The Word of God states that:
- “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth EVERY son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you, as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof ALL are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
This is not something that is reserved for just some of God’s children therefore but everyone. There is no child of God that can boast of having lived so pleasing to God, that there was never a need in his or her Christian walk while here on earth, for him or her to be chastened. If there is such a person, it means that that person is deluded into thinking that he or she is a Christian. For, when it comes to chastening, the Word of God makes this clear that “…ALL are partakers…”. That is, ALL of his children receive chastening at some point or other, even if to varying degrees and for different durations.
The term ‘son’ as used in the scripture above, means child of God, as in born again, redeemed, saved, washed in Jesus’ blood and regenerated by God’s Spirit.
POINT 6 – When being chastened, God wants us to SUBMIT OR SUBJECT OURSELVES under that chastening, to Him.
This means that we must not be rebellious, resentful or fight against it.
It reminds me of when Hagar had run away from Sarah because she was being roughly treated. God told her to go back and submit herself to her mistress Sarah.
Similarly, when we are being chastened of the Lord, no matter how shameful it is, how embarrassed we are and hurt, no matter how tired we feel and overwhelmed, knowing that it is the hand of Lord at work in our lives, God wants us to submit or subject ourselves under it, in humility, so that he can work out HIS purposes in our lives. He wants us to not fight against it so as to try to bring it to an end prematurely but let the chastening run its full course.
Knowing that it is from the Lord, we must humble ourselves under his mighty hand and admit that whatever he sees fit to occur in our lives, he is just. This may require us to defend his honour even in the chastening, as David did at times when he was being chastened.
In Psalm 51:4 for example, David admitted to God: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest“
I myself found myself in a similar situation in the past. Humiliated with what God was publicly allowing me to go through by keeping certain doors shut in my life, people looked on in amazement at what I was going through and the extent of my suffering and although I was hurting excruciatingly, I felt the need to let them know that God remained just and that I was going through what I was going through because I was being chastened. People saw it as a licence to do their worst, to speak evil of me and to laugh at me in my pain but I was mindful that God’s chastening, humiliating as it is when it comes, has an expiry date. When he was good and ready and I had learned all that he was teaching me in his love, he would flip the script and silence the naysayers, as he always does when it comes to his children.
In my love for my Lord, I was quick to let people know that God was just and that I was being chastened, as I did not want them to think for one moment that my God was not faithful. He had been faithful all of my life and even in that chastening, he would still reach out and show me pockets of mercy, for which I was grateful. As a matter of fact, even in the chastening, it is he who gives his children the strength, in the face of ridicule, attack, gossip, malice and everything people, the devil and the world throw at them, to endure and to go through it or else, they would not have made it. They would not have lived to see another day.
When being chastened therefore, God calls us to subject or submit ourselves to him, under his chastening hand, to just surrender to his will and the pain that he is bringing our way. This means to submit to God’s timing and his will. If he decides in his wisdom, that the chastening is going to be for a whole month or year or even years, then so be it. Submitting and subjecting means to accept whatever he decides to do in our lives, no matter how long, no matter how shameful and no matter how painful.
His Word states, “…we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence.: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
POINT 7 – When being chastened, God wants us to UNDERSTAND WHY it is happening.
He wants us to understand what has caused the chastening to come into our lives, for us to be introspective, to examine ourselves and to be honest with him. He wants us to see where we messed up, where we went wrong, where we took the wrong path and the wickedness of our actions.
Once we understand why we are going through what we are going through, without us trying to justify ourselves as we tend to do, he wants us in godly sorrow, to humbly repent of our sins, to confess them before him, so that he can forgive us. He wants us to understand that he has brought the adversity into our lives, so that when it is over, we will not be the same but different. We will not still be doing the same thing and having the same childish mindset but we would have changed. In short, we would be more holy, more spiritually mature, more serious about the things that pertain to God and his righteousness.
In Lamentations 3, when considering how the people of Judah had been chastened of the Lord, the prophet Jeremiah lamented of the experience, in a manner that tearfully rings true of the experience suffered by every bona fide child of God who has ever been through (not mild but) severe chastening from the Lord. He cried:
- “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
- Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
- This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.
- He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.
- For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.”
The Prophet goes on to state that, despite the extent of the suffering and pain inflicted by the Lord, he (the Lord) does not take pleasure in it or do it willingly. For, he loves his children and when we hurt, he hurts. However, he allows the pain and suffering because it is necessary. He is primarily concerned with the product or fruit that this adversity will produce for our good and to HIS glory.
The Prophet explains of God in verses 33-36, when it comes to the chastening of his children:
- “For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth. To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.”
No. God does not bring us pain willingly or delight in our suffering, humiliation and hurt but Hebrews 12 states that he does it for our good. He does it so that we will benefit. He sends the rod so that after we have been whipped, we will be corrected, we will understand where we went wrong and the gravity of our sin, we will humble ourselves under his mighty hand and repent in godly sorrow. We will change course and put away that behaviour, attitude, tendency and sin that displeases him.
This could be gossip. This could be pride. This could be self-righteousness or self-importance or self-sufficiency. It could be selfishness, drama, love of conflict, strife, malice, competition, sexual immorality, stealing, lying, jealousy, unforgiveness or some other kind of disobedience. Whatever it is, God wants it gone from us and for us to see the ugliness of our sin, so that we can confess it before him in godly sorrow, get to the point where we hate that sin that we have been guilty of and turn completely away from it.
He has instructed that we should be holy, even as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and these attitudes, mentalities, behaviours and sins undermine our holy call.
In Hebrews 12, it reads:
- “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; BUT HE FOR OUR PROFIT, that we might be partakers of HIS HOLINESS. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: NEVERTHELESS AFTERWARD IT YIELDETH THE PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO THEM WHICH ARE EXERCISED THEREBY.”
Indeed, God’s chastening hand is so awesome in terms of what it produces in those who subject themselves to him while being chastened, that he can take someone who is guilty of a particular sin, have him repent of it, be forgiven of it and then use that same person to be one of his loudest advocates against that sin, which that person now vehemently hates.
POINT 8 – Once we have been chastened, our lesson complete, we have humbled ourselves and confessed our sins before God in repentance, God does not want us to continue wallowing in grief, self-pity or to remain down-in-the-dumps forever but to get up from where we are and to MOVE FORWARD OPTIMISTICALLY.
Yes what we went through was unbelievably painful, so painful, that sometimes we are shocked when we reminisce on how much we suffered and the kind of things we went through and to see that today, we are still standing. It is by the grace and mercies of God alone, we know, that we were not consumed.
Having come through the suffering, having endured it patiently as required of God, he does not want us to remain in the valley of sadness, guilt or shame. If we genuinely repented of our sins because we saw the error of our ways and went to God and confessed them with godly sorrow, then we can rest assured that he has forgiven us.
1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now that we’ve been forgiven, God does not want us to remain on that page of pain, failure and humiliation because there is so much more that he has in store for our lives!
He wants to use us for HIS glory and to do so much more in us and through us. He is not finished with us. Our story is by no means over. The author and finisher of our faith has more chapters to write!
By his grace, we can be profitable to him again and so in Hebrews 12, once the peaceable fruit of righteousness has been borne, it urges: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
POINT 9 – Finally, having learned our lesson during the chastening, repented and put away whatever displeases God, God now wants us to CONTINUE ON OR FOLLOW THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
We must be careful not to relapse, turn aside, be sidetracked or distracted. Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). She was on the path of righteousness that God in his mercy put her on, so as to avoid destruction, yet she looked back and in so doing was turned into a pillar of salt.
Proverbs 4:20-27, puts the whole issue of focusing on the path of righteousness without distraction, beautifully, when it states:
- “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.“
Given that God’s children are soldiers of the Lord, 2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
In pursuing righteousness without distractions therefore, once healed from God’s chastening hand and forgiven, Hebrews 12 urges us to continue on the path of peace and holiness. It states, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
In keeping with Hebrews 12, in Job 36:7-12, Elihu in speaking of God’s faithfulness in chastening his children (the righteous), why he does it, what he expects and the outcome, based on how we choose to respond, stated:
- “He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.”
In closing, there is another portion of scripture that echoes some of the same sentiments as Hebrews 12. On the issue of chastening, it reinforces the fact that God brings it into our lives to deliver us from our immaturity and foolishness, to open our eyes so that we can truly understand what life is really about, to grow us up spiritually and to make us take firm hold of the things which pertain to wisdom, godliness, holiness and righteousness. I think it to be a fitting end to this Article and so I will quote it here.
Proverbs 3 states:
- “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that findeth WISDOM, and the man that getteth UNDERSTANDING. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. LENGTH OF DAYS is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are PEACE. She is a tree of LIFE to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
(Written on 5th October, 2021, added to thereafter)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 2 – ‘The Fivefold Purpose Of Suffering’
- Note 24 – ‘The Blessing Of Brokenness’
- Note 25 – ‘Arm Yourself – Suffering Is Part Of The Christian’s Story’
- Note 64 – ‘Pain – God’s Tool For Our Spiritual Development’
- Note 30 – ‘The Price Tag Of Success’
- Note 70 – ‘The Pain I felt In My Series Of Pit Experiences’
- Note 188 – ‘Opportunity To Rejoice Or A Reason To Tremble?’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 286 – ‘The Stronghold of Self’
Also, under the ‘BROKEN Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 7 – ‘The Backslider And The Book Of Lamentations’