While there may be some comfort in knowing that “the Lord disciplines those He loves” there is also the realization that God will go to great lengths in order to prompt His children towards repentance and living a life that is pleasing to Him. He desires holiness. In His graciousness, He has provided His Spirit to believers in order to equip them towards such a high calling. His desire is for us to live in right relationship with Him because that is what He has created us to do. When we live otherwise, He often uses the painful consequences of those decisions to bring us back towards a right relationship with Him.
However, while we may recognize that God can do good through it, most of us don’t like discipline. Most of us would rather forgo the painful consequences, and when we experience them, we often rail against the God who is using them for our good. Yet, this wasn’t Zechariah’s response (See Lk. 1:5-25; 57-66 for the complete report). When Zechariah was told he would have a son, he questioned the veracity of that statement, and he was disciplined for his distrust. The fact that God made him mute may have made it difficult for him to complain, yet he responded to this discipline in two very important ways. First – he obeyed. The angel of God had told him what he was to name his son, and he did so accordingly. Secondly, his very first words were ones that praised God. He could have opened his mouth and talked about how good it was to speak again, or how difficult it was to endure the time of discipline. However, he chose neither of these things. His first words were ones of blessing. He responded to correction with thanksgiving and praise.
Perhaps we would be inclined to think this was easy. After all, Zechariah had months to think about his response and to get his heart right before God. However, if we couldn’t speak for months, would our first words be ones of thanks? When we undergo God’s discipline, is our first response to give Him praise?