“In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite His wonders, they did not believe.
So he made their days vanish like a breath,
and their years in terror.
When He killed them, they sought Him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered Him with their mouths;
they lied to Him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast toward Him;
they were not faithful to His covenant.
Yet He, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
He restrained His anger often
and did not stir up all His wrath.”
Sometimes, the difficulties we face in life, be it personal, familial, generational, or even national, are a direct consequence of the choices we make. Sometimes, our difficulties and struggles are simply the discipline of God upon us for stepping out of line with His covenant and living life with spiritual blinders, ignoring His truth and His ways. He will even at times use non-believers and foreigners to exact His judgement as a form of discipline in order to spur His people to repentance. Yet, in spite of it all, as long as we are on this earth, His judgements are not always fatal or everlasting. God’s discipline could always be far worse than what He doles out because His judgement, while fueled by His holiness, is tempered by His love and compassion for His children.
God Himself would have been well within His rights to kill Adam in accordance with His word on the day of His disobedience. But He had compassion and atoned for Adam’s and Eve’s sin and covered their nakedness as He shed the blood of animals to create a covering for them. He would have been well within His rights to destroy the entire inhabitation of the earth with the flood and wipe out all of human existence, but He had compassion upon His creation and saved a family of seven in order to give humanity a second chance upon exiting the ark. He could have struck down the inhabitants of Babel for their pride and arrogance in trying to reach the heavens by their own hand with their tower, but instead He simply chose to confuse their language and disperse the people apart from one another.
He would have been well within His rights to completely destroy the brothers of Joseph for selling him into slavery and leaving him for dead. Instead he sheltered them in Egypt under the hand of Joseph in order to preserve His covenant. He could have left Israel under the slavery of Egypt, which He allowed for over 400 years. Instead He had compassion upon them and led them out of bondage towards the Promised Land. He could have allowed Israel to die in the wilderness for their faithlessness, but instead He chose to feed them and water them in a dry, barren, lifeless land.
He would have been well within His rights to allow Israel to be destroyed by her enemies because of their idolatry. Instead He chose to allow them to simply be carried off to Babylon in chains for a relatively short time. He could have allowed Jonah to die in the belly of the great fish, but instead He allowed him to sit in the bile for only three days before being vomited upon the beach to deliver His message to Nineveh. He could have allowed Nineveh to simply be destroyed by fire, but He sent a messenger to deliver hope through repentance.
Just like any parent disciplines their child because they love them and want to see them grow into responsible adults in due time, God will discipline His children in order to bring about repentance in their hearts and return them to a proper relationship with Him. And just like any parent rejoices at the repentant heart of their wayward child, so does our Abba rejoice when we run into His compassionate arms and embrace Him.