The Broken Heart of God

Over the last few days, Shawna and I have been having to discipline two of our kids more than usual. Because of the repetition of the disobedience, we’ve had to be very strict and stern in our response. This morning I had to be stern again.

While in worship today, my heart was breaking for our children. My heart breaks because we are having to be so strong in our discipline. I hate this. I want to embrace, bless and communicate how much they mean to me. My heart delights in them. They bring me great joy. I want to express this and bless them.

However, right now if I do that, they will assume that their actions are ok. If I forego the discipline because I don’t want them to experience any distance or unhappiness, I’m being less than loving. I so desire them to express my heart but they cannot know the love we have for them as parents if we turn love into “nice.”

I’ve heard the verse about God the Father disciplining those he loves hundreds of times. But this verse came to life to me in a new way. In some ways I saw God’s discipline mechanically. It was his natural, computer-like response to disobedience. I didn’t see his broken heart, not just because we disobey but also because he can’t shower us with his embrace. I’m still searching for words to express this new understanding of God’s passion for us. It’s as if he must build a dam that holds back his embrace so that he can discipline us in order to prepare us to handle the embrace. But the fact that he has to hold it back still breaks his heart.