Parenting is a lot like having little spiritual lessons running around your house all day. I get this opportunity to learn about patience, love, forgiveness, and discipline on a moment by moment basis. God hits me right between the eyes almost daily as He shows me various parallels between my parenting and how He feels about me…His child.
My girls were disobeying the other day and I screamed to myself in my head (because I’m trying to avoid scaring the neighbors), “Don’t they realize that if they would just OBEY, I would give them nearly anything they wanted!” It’s true, isn’t it? Short of going overboard on sugar and danger, their lives would be pretty awesome if I knew they would obey me at every given moment. If they cleaned up after themselves, spoke well to each other, or were consistently grateful little humans, I would be looking for ways to reward their efforts at every turn. (I just lost every parent as they sailed off into dreamland…oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful?!?!?!)
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel like I have good kids that I reward regularly, but I have to admit that’s not always reality around here. Unfortunately, reality around here also consists of a succession of disobedience and punishment. And the most interesting part is that EVERY time my child disobeys, they know better. They know when they hit their sister that nothing good is coming next, but they WANTED to get the punch in anyway. Drives you nuts, doesn’t it?
So, there is clearly a correlation in my house between my children choosing wrong and them being miserable. I really wish it weren’t so, but I’m a good parent, so that’s the deal. I need them to be miserable when they sin so that they look around one day and decide to try a different strategy. And unfortunately for my own sins, that’s the way God has to deal with me as well. When I do wrong, I can expect the punishment that is coming next…and it makes me miserable.
Now, while I don’t believe there is ALWAYS a connection between hardship and sin, I do think it’s prudent to use hardship as a point of evaluation for our own lives.
For instance, if your dating relationships are destructive, it might be good to evaluate your pre-marital sexual activity. Are you having sex outside of marriage and breaking God’s principles? That may be why you feel punished in relationships. If your finances are always a mess, it may be good to have a real, honest conversation with yourself about what the Bible says about tithing. If you aren’t giving to God first, you can expect to be miserable. What about gossip? How many times have you been bitten by the words you know you shouldn’t have spoken? The list just goes on and on…
Simply put, misery and disobedience go hand in hand…that’s the rule in my house, and also in God’s. The best way to get around it is good, old-fashioned obedience to the boundaries of God. So, dig into your heart and pray about what areas God wants to work on. I guarantee you one thing: just as we love our children in the midst of our discipline, God loves you as well. He wants to rip off the shackles of sin in your life and look for every conceivable way to bless you! So, go pick up your toys, speak well of your sister, and be grateful…and then watch your life fill with joy!