We have a dog named Duke. Actually, Duke is an eight-and-a-half months old puppy. He likes to chew on things, and before he had been taught otherwise, he was indiscriminate about just what it was that he chewed on. He messed up bigtime and chewed one of my wife’s most valued books. To say she was unhappy is a gross understatement.
After she had scolded him thoroughly, he came slinking up to me with a (pardon the pun) hang-dog expression on his face. He nuzzled up between my legs, put his head on my lap and let out the most pathetic little whimper. I pushed him away and said, in a rather rough voice, “Don’t think you can come to me for comfort after what you did.”
And it hit me like a slap in the face. What if God treated me that way after He’d had to discipline me harshly for something I had done to offend Him? How would I like it?
When I am hurting–even when the pain is self-inflicted or well-deserved, what do I need most? More to the point, what have I come to expect from God at those times, and how should I treat others?
Okay. So Duke is only a dog. But this isn’t about Duke. It’s about us and our attitudes. As I sat here writing this, I remembered times when I was a boy and was disciplined quite sharply. No matter that I deserved it, I was stung, and I desperately needed to know that I was loved in spite of myself. And I remembered very few times when that comfort and assurance came to me.
Moreover, I remembered disciplining my two very young daughters and sending them to their rooms without comfort and assurances that they too were loved, no matter what their behaviors had been.
By God’s grace, that was remedied when I heard Dr. James Dobson describe his way of disciplining his own children. After a short time to allow them to reflect on why they had been corrected, he would go to their rooms and remind them of his love for them.
I think of my alltime favorite Bible passage–2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort He gives.” (CEV)
Did you notice it says He ALWAYS gives us comfort–not just when we are innocent or unjustly treated? How then should we treat our children? Or each other? Or all of God’s creatures?