“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. . . . I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.” (Hos. 11:1-3, NKJV).
In these verses, Hosea is saying that the Lord’s way is like the tender care of a new parent. Just as a parent tenderly and patiently teaches a child to walk, taking it up by his hands to prevent its fall, so the Lord had cared for Israel right from the beginning. God, who loves and forgives, is the heart of Hosea’s message. Even when He applies discipline, He is deeply compassionate. His anger can be terrifying, but His mercy is beyond comprehension.
Through Moses, God informed the Egyptian king that Israel was His special child (Exod. 4:22-23). Although all the nations of the earth, including Egypt, were God’s sons and daughters, the Hebrew nation was selected to be God’s firstborn son with special privileges. But along with those privileges came responsibilities. In the wilderness the Lord carried His people in the same way in which “a father carries his son” (Deut. 1:31, NIV). At times He disciplined them just like “a man disciplines his son” (Deut. 8:5, NIV).
“All who in this world render true service to God or man receive a preparatory training in the school of sorrow. The weightier the trust and the higher the service, the closer is the test and the more severe the discipline.”—Ellen G. White,Education, p. 151.
There is no question, any parent who loves his children will discipline them, and always for their own good. If flawed and fallen humans do that, how much more so can we trust in God’s love for us, even during times of trial?
For many of us, the issue is not about trusting God’s discipline. Rather, the struggle is knowing how to interpret the trials that come our way. How do we know if what we are going through is, indeed, God teaching us in the “school of sorrow,” or if it is something else? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.