My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
Bad things happen to God’s sons. Why? Because God in love chastens them due to their sins. Do not resent or faint at His trials in your life, for they prove His love for you; they stop you from sinning; and they lead to your perfection. God chastens, or sends negative events into your life, because He delights in you and wants you to be better, for Him.
Affliction comes to every believer. Adversity, difficulty, pain, and trouble are tools of a loving God to correct faults and perfect His children. Instead of resenting His chastening or tiring of setbacks He sends your way, you should rejoice that He loves you and wants to perfect you. If He left you alone, then you are a bastard, and not His son (Heb 12:7-8)!
No one likes affliction, difficulties, or trouble. These are things you try to avoid as much as possible in life. But the Lord sends them in love, for He is able to use them to teach you better than peace and prosperity could ever teach you. Good times feel great, but they never made anyone better. Hard times feel bad, but they make you stronger and wiser.
It is easy to fret against the Lord, to complain, “Lord, why did you do this to me?” It is easy to say He is not fair – you do not deserve trouble. It is easy to get discouraged and think of quitting your race. Job fell for these thoughts. But Elihu told Job he was wrong, God was right, and Job could end the painful lessons by humbling himself (Job 33:12).
There are four reasons bad things happen to a Christian. He is being chastened for sin in his life; he is suffering the natural consequences of his own foolishness; he is being tested to build his faith; or God is simply manifesting His own glory in his life. The purpose of self-examination is to analyze your circumstances to find God’s lesson in them. Once a man knows the matter is an act of God, he should humbly submit to it and rejoice in it.
Negative events God sends may be in any part of your life, and they may not be in the part you need to improve. They can range from health issues to financial problems, from troubles with your children to losing your job. They may be large or small, they may irritate or overwhelm, but if God’s chastening, they are done wisely for great reasons.
The ultimate reason for cheerfully accepting God’s chastening in your life is the proof it gives of His love for you (Pr 3:12; Heb 12:5-6; Rev 3:19). The true God only afflicts His children out of faithfulness and desire for them. David said, “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Ps 119:75).
The second reason for cheerfully accepting God’s chastening in your life is that it keeps you back from sinning more (Job 34:31-32; Ps 119:67; Jer 31:18-19; I Cor 11:32). Since that is often the only way you can learn not to do some appealing thing that is wrong, you should be thankful for His mercy in teaching you His law and ways (Job 5:17; Ps 94:12).
The third reason for cheerfully accepting God’s chastening is the loving reason for it – to make you perfect (Rom 5:3-5; Heb 12:10-12; Jas 1:2-4). Learning to patiently deal with adversity is a great measure of maturity (Pr 24:10; I Pet 5:10). Affliction builds faith in God; prosperity does not cause you to trust Him more (Pr 30:8-9). Paul was thankful for the opportunity to grow in God’s grace through the adversities in his life (II Cor 12:7-10).
Some sins are more heinous to God, so He may chasten by even cutting lives short. The best example is Corinthian church members that abused communion – many were weak and sickly, and many had already died (I Cor 11:29-31). But even here, God’s chastening proved He loved them and they would not be condemned with the world (I Cor 11:32).
If a loving benefactor sent you at great expense to the world’s best graduate school, where you saw that all the lessons were to help you to great prosperity and success, would you hate the benefactor or quit before the degree was granted? No! You would express appreciation to the benefactor and learn all the lessons as quickly as possible.
This proverb, like the rest, teaches wisdom. By seeing adversity as God’s tool to perfect men, you are forewarned and forearmed to handle it wisely (Eccl 7:14). The quicker you learn the lesson, the sooner the trouble will be lifted; if you despise and resent it, God will bring it with greater intensity (Job 36:15-18). There is no reason to faint, for they that endure shall obtain the promises (II Cor 4:16-18; Gal 6:9; Heb 6:10-12; 12:1-6; Jas 5:11).