Friday, January 26, 2018

Rebuke for Good

It is “human nature” to question the ups and downs of life. Of course, people mostly question the downs of life. The Jewish view of the world, however, is that nothing happens by chance. We mortals only have a limited view. The larger picture, however, is something that people, nations, and even entire generations, cannot see.

One perspective on the hardships of life can be found in the writings of King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs: “Do not reject the discipline of the Lord, my son; Do not abhor His rebuke. For whom the Lord loves, He rebukes, as a father [does to] the son whom he favors” (3:11-12). The message conveyed in these two verses is one of comfort. The challenges that God sends in one’s life are meant to help one grow, and the tests one endures and survives are meant for one’s own benefit. According to many commentaries, the ordeals that one suffers in this world countermand potential punishments in the World to Come.

An important aspect of these verses is the analogy of God’s relationship to humankind as that of a father to a son. Just as a parent does not delight in punishing a child, so too God does not bring suffering to a person for no reason. A parent, however, sees how the consequences of reproof often help a child become a better person. This proverb of King Solomon serves a reminder that in times of trial one should look for a way to grow and remember to think of God as a father that cares.

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