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Behind a Frowning Providence

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons… If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” – Hebrews 12:5-8.

A SITUATION AROSE in work where three members of staff were involved in an incident that countered employment policies. Two of the staff members coordinated actions of a severe nature that put the company at high risk; the other remaining employee, involved to some degree, was unaware of all that comprised the nature of their gross misconduct.

When it came to the director’s attention, immediate action was taken. Passing by the two employees without saying a word, he called the third staff member into his office.

Most of the entire factory staff-team stood nearby to hear the director severely reprimand the employee, followed by a moment of total silence and the employee’s apology for negligence of company security. The member of staff left the office shaken after receiving a disciplinary warning but resumed her duties.

The other two members of staff, laughed as they returned to their work, thinking their conduct had been overlooked, but those smirks were soon cleared from their faces as a senior worker suddenly interjected with a sober warning, that the director’s silence toward them implied a grave disciplinary action was about to be carried out.

Summoned into the office, no words were spoken yet again to the other two employees, just a cold, deafening silence that made those minutes seem to drag for hours on end. Heads hung with shame, the two staff members quickly exited the office with letters of immediate termination, escorted by security to never enter the premises again.

No one would be in their right mind to relish any form of discipline – let alone being fired from employment. General discipline, however, is unpleasant for the time, but there are positives that far outweigh the pain. We’re all, even as Christians, inclined to spurn discipline, and we hardly see the benefits in the midst of it, but one positive aspect we can draw from is the evidence we are God’s children; it is one of the hallmarks of our election, and because we are chosen will therefore manifest itself through many periods of discipline.

The employee mentioned above seemed to receive the harsher treatment, while the other two assumed to get off scot-free. The fact she was severely reprimanded was evidence she was worth keeping on in the company; the other two – they were of no use whatsoever and the director had nothing to say to them, didn’t want to say anything or saw the point of even addressing them verbally. His main concern was that they were out from under his feet and no longer to be seen.

What a judgement to receive: beyond discipline, beyond correction, just a silent treatment of irreversible dismissal.

Wouldn’t that be something detrimental to us – God not even bothering to discipline us? Whom God loves He disciplines, and He immeasurably loves us so as to not leave a work of His unfinished (Philippians 1:6). God reproves us in order that one day we will hear Him say over His work of regeneration in our lives, “It is good.”

Next time we are going through periods that really rub us up the wrong way, that seem to bring the worst out of us and when God seems harsh toward us, let us remember that we are being trained – and no training is easy; rather feels like the life is being knocked out of us – we are being made fit to live up to the calling God the Father has on our lives.

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