Corrective Suffering

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. —Psalm 119:67

David wrote in that familiar psalm, Psalm 23, "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." The rod and the staff were shepherd's tools. The staff was a long, crooked instrument the shepherd would use when a sheep was going astray. But the rod was simply a club, which was used when the staff wasn't working anymore.

We may think that a club is extremely cruel to use on a poor sheep. But better to get whacked with a club than to be eaten by a wolf. Sheep are incredibly dumb. They will actually line up to die. If one sheep goes over a cliff, the other sheep will say, "Get in line. We are all going to die today. Let's go. Single file." The shepherd sometimes has to use extra corrective measures on a wayward sheep that could lead others astray.

I have seen the Lord use the rod of suffering or sickness to get someone's attention. He will say, "You really shouldn't do that," and then convicts them by His Spirit. But they might ignore Him. So He tells them, "Don't do that. You really shouldn't do that. I don't want you to do that." If they continue to ignore Him, BAM! God will use His rod: "I told you—don't do that." I have met a lot of people in hospitals who have come to Christ. Unfortunately, a lot of them don't stay with Christ. But others continue to walk with the Lord.

Maybe God has recently whacked you with His rod to get your attention. Maybe He has given you a wake-up call in the form of suffering or sickness, and you've been wondering why. It is because He loves you.

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