I can remember being punished as a youngster. Sometimes my mother would have to resort to, “Just wait until your father gets home” and I’d have to wait in anticipation of the willow tree switch or thin leather belt later on. And, when the time came, it hurt. It hurt bad.
But, strange as it sounds, I remember with fondness when later that day my mother would come in my room to discuss the situation with me and make sure the lesson hit its intended target. I felt so loved. I don’t even think I understood it at the time, but the memory must mean that my adolescent mind instinctively knew that if they would not have made such a big deal about my infraction, that would have meant they loved me less. They loved me too much to just let me have my own way. It somehow made the pain of the spanking and discipline worth it all.
With children of my own now, I see the same longing for boundaries in their little lives. Left to their own devices, bad habits and behaviors would continue to overtake their daily routine. They long to be loved. They need instruction on how to behave. They crave the interaction in their lives to be molded and guided into what’s socially acceptable, and more importantly, spiritually mature.
In today’s chapter, I was reminded of these bittersweet childhood moments when I read the first part of the chapter:
1 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. 2 “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and that her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her in full for all her sins.”
Israel’s punishment is over, now the Lord wants to lavish His love on them. The hope is that they have now learned their lesson and grown because of it. Their reward is not far off:
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
In writing this, I am somehow reminded that some people did not grow up in such an environment. Many have haunting memories of tongue lashings and physical beatings that had no love associated with them, no warm conversation afterward, no comfort – only more pain and wounds.
The same God who punished in love for the purpose of restoration, can heal the unwarranted and unloving wounds. Look at what the Bible says in Psalms 34:18:
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.
If you find yourself longing for that kind of love, turn to Jesus. He will rescue you and it will feel so good when it finally stops hurting.