Getting Our Attention
No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. - (Lamentations 3:31-33, NIV)
In the much-loved Psalm 23, David wrote, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The rod and the staff were shepherd’s tools. The staff was a long, crooked instrument the shepherd would use when a sheep was going astray. But the rod was simply a club that was used when the staff wasn’t working anymore.
We may think that a club is extremely cruel to use on a poor sheep. But better to get whacked with a club than eaten by a wolf! Sheep are incredibly dumb. They will actually line up to die. If one sheep goes over a cliff, the other sheep will say, “Get in line. We’re all going to die today. Let’s go. Single file.” The shepherd sometimes has to use extra corrective measures on a wayward sheep that could otherwise lead others astray.
I have seen the Lord use the rod of suffering or sickness to get someone’s attention. He will say, “You really shouldn’t do that” and then convicts them by His Spirit. But they might ignore Him. So He tells them, “Don’t do that. I don’t want you to do that.” If they continue to ignore Him, BAM! God will use His rod: “I told you . . . don’t do that.” I have met a lot of people in hospitals who have come to Christ. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t stay with Christ. But others continue to walk with the Lord.
Maybe God has recently whacked you with His rod to get your attention. Maybe He has given you a wake-up call in the form of suffering or sickness, and you’ve been wondering why.
The book of Hebrews tells us, “My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects” (12:5-6, MSG). Don’t ever doubt it: if God has allowed hardship or suffering into your life for a season, it is because He loves you.
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When God doesn’t make sense, when it seems that He is asleep, when it feels like He doesn’t care, we must remind ourselves of His promises. Going back to God’s promises, we find something that we desperately need in those hard times: perspective.
That eternal perspective is the focus of Dr. James Dobson’s book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, which we’re offering as a thank-you to anyone who gives a gift of support to Harvest Ministries this month.