I have a cross stitch on my wall of the saying “Give your children two things – One is roots, the other wings.” I’ve seen people rooted in a lot of things, some not so healthy – criticism, being well behaved, perfectionism, discipline, etc. All of these can be positive in the right context, even criticism. Critiquing can be an important part of learning. But none of these are helpful as a foundation, as the very thing in which our personalities are established. But if we have a foundation of love, then we can welcome discipline, we can receive criticism. If we don’t have a foundation of love, then criticism is like fingernails on a blackboard. Discipline can seem like tyranny.
So how do we respond to God’s discipline? Does it feel like just one more requirement? Another scratch against the blackboard? It may mean we haven’t been well grounded yet in his love.
Kids who grow up in loving households, where love and respect are openly displayed on a daily basis, can have good resilience and coping skills for facing challenges that come later in life. If we get a good grounding in being told that we are loved and cherished, in spite of and through the good and the bad, we can cope better with the inevitable trials that will come.
So it is with God. His Word to us is that he loves us, cherishes us, gave up everything for us. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
Things can look very different against the backdrop of knowing he loves you and me more than anything in this world. Confident that he has control of my life, that he is working all things, this very day, together for my good, that he is giving me all things necessary for life and godliness – if I’m well grounded in these truths, I have the confidence to walk through this day with joy, with grace toward others, and with hope that good things are going to happen today.