I'm sure we've all said the phrase "This hurts me more than it hurts you!", haven't we? I know as a kid I've heard it from my mom and dad before a spanking. I've never spanked a child - because I don't have any children - but I have spanked my dogs and have had the thought cross my mind. It is surely no fun to have to be the disciplinarian is it? The same goes for in the workplace. Reprimands, I believe, are definitely harder to give than to receive, if done in the spirit of love and not in anger.
Reading through Judges 10 today, I saw once again how much Israel grieved a God who loved them beyond measure. The children had once again started serving other Gods (10:6) and God was irate (10:7) ! In fact, God was so mad that He sold Israel into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the children of Ammon. Consequently, Israel was oppressed for 18 years. Now that is quite a "spanking".
Finally, Israel came crying back to God in repentance - 18 years after being sold. My first thought is "I can't believe it took them 18 years to repent". Then, God reminds me to look at my own life and rethink that thought. Can anyone relate? What was interesting to me is that Israel had a short dialogue with God before they changed their ways:
- They acknowledged their bad ways and idol worship - v. 10
- God reminds them of His past miracles - v. 11-12
- God tells them they have forsaken Him and will not deliver them anymore - v 12-13
- "Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen" - God v. 14
- Israel whines a second time & displays willingness to accept God's discipline - v 15
- Israel puts actions with their words, removing the gods and serving THE God. - v 16
Once God saw the sincerity of Israel's "heart", He was grieved for their misery. Let's take a look:
And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. (Judges 10:16)
God didn't want to punish His beloved people. He did not like to see them in pain. Here's another verse in Isaiah to reference the same emotions of our God. Again, He is pained because of their problems, even though Israel's trials were well deserved for their bad behavior.
Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
My heart just melts with compassion when I think of God's lovingkindness to His people. My friends and family surely don't give me that much grace when I mess up! Time and time again, we break God's heart. Time and time again, he grieves for us and with us, and lets us come back to His loving arms.
Thank You, God, for Your longsuffering with me and with all of us as Your children. Forgive is for making your heart break and show us how to live in ways that are pleasing to Your sight. I want to make Your heart smile. Amen.