Recently during dinner two of my children ignored an instruction which resulted in a glass of milk getting knocked over. The two offenders’ consequence was that they had to clean up the mess without grown-up help. One child had a smile break out and thought that they got off easy. The other child began crying lamenting the punishment and considered it harsh.
A common theme I have come across in parenting material is allowing children to suffer the consequences. As parents we are tempted to not allow our children to “suffer” the consequence of a bad choice or lack of discipline. For example, taking forgotten homework to school, quickly replacing a broken toy, or simply not following through on a threatened punishment. The thought process is to let children learn to understand that their decisions have consequences in little things so they will make better choices as the importance of making good decisions grow. I often fail with this in wanting to rescue my children, but I have to teach my children discipline and to make good choices. Even if it is as simple as making them clean up their own spilled milk!
As adults we have to understand our heavenly Father works in a similar way. We may have to suffer some in order to avoid a tragic eternal consequence. The Bible illustrates this in Hebrews 12.
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
God promises long life to children who obey and a harvest of peace to adults. I pray that we, as well as our children, are obedient in all we do!