Proverbs 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. 13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
This passage of scripture tells us that God is actively involved in guiding and directing the footsteps of all those who have entered into a covenant relationship with Him. Even those who do not acknowledge Him are not exempt from the corrective processes, because it is the will of God that all should come to repentance. There is a reason why Jesus taught us to address God as "Our Father", for are there are certain duties that come with good parenting, and one of them is making concerted efforts in the instruction and training of one's children.
After Adam and Eve had sinned, God instructed them to offer sacrifice of a lamb, which was to be a constant reminder to them that God would eradicate the sin problem permanently, by sending Jesus to die on Calvary. This information was also given to their offspring, but the eldest son chose to do otherwise, and instead of leaving him to reap the baleful results of his own devices, God condescended to reason with him with the intent that he would have a change of heart, but to no avail. Let's read:
Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Here in these verses we see the voice of gentle entreaty, calling Cain to repentance, the means whereby God usually begins the corrective processes. But instead of yielding to the very mild discipline, Cain immersed himself still deeper in rebellion, until, like so many that have come after, he permanently turned his back on God, and the efforts made to retrieve him from ruin were forever despised in his eyes. Let's read:
Genesis 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
God employs different corrective measures in His efforts to rehabilitate and change us, and these methods vary in intensity, from gentle entreaties to the more severe forms, such as became necessary in the case of pharaoh, when speaking and pleading would not work. In many of the upheavals of nature that we often see, God's hand can be traced, calling us to repentance. The apparent random outbursts in the natural world that he permits, are in many cases wake-up calls to prevent nations and individuals from going over the cliff to eternal ruin. Let's read:
Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. 10 Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
In our own individual experiences, we need to be careful lest the example of Cain be repeated. Our attitude towards God's corrective measures determines to a great extent whether or not He can work within us to accomplish the salvation we so desperately need, and therefore we should train our minds to see in His providences, gracious overtures and entreaties to save us, when we know we have done wrong. Let's read:
Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Everyone who has ever named the name of Christ has needed corrective discipline. From David to Peter, and from the beloved John to Judas. That's why, instead of indulging the "Why me syndrome", when going through difficult circumstances, we should rather be searching our souls to see if God is trying to reach us, or to bring our attention to some previously unknown sin. This is not always the case, but we can at least check, for He often instructs and admonishes through the daily experiences of life.
We therefore end with a passage of scripture that should encourage us to harbor a humble and teachable spirit, instead of offering vain oblations, so that the chastening of the Lord may do its appointed work the very first time around. Let's read:
6 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
May we always cultivate a humble attitude to the remedial aspects of the plan of salvation as manifested in the chastening of the Lord for our upliftment. "Good night" and God bless!