Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Psalm 51:4
What makes a person change his ways? Consequences. God entrusts His children with gift after gift. When they pervert them and use them to invest into a wayward journey, God steps in. He takes away their comforts so that they feel the pain of deprivation. All this is to discipline those He loves so that we might be saved and turn back to Him with a whole heart.
God is not a cruel parent who enjoys withholding and depriving. Some parents are so angry over past injustices done to them that they have a need to punish someone innocent in an attempt to spend their frustration. They pick on their own child who is an easy mark in order to feel powerful over someone powerless. That is why those who have been abused often abuse the next generation. We might be tempted to see God this way, as a judgemental parent who punishes indiscriminately. God forbid, we might even perceive Him to be a Father who enjoys the sport of cruelty.
Disciplining children is always His last resort. The history of the Old Testament bears this out. God is long-suffering. His mercy against disobedience spans thousands of years. He sends His prophets to speak against sin, to convey His love and grief, to plead for repentance, and He repeats this process multiple times before there is a disciplinary intervention. I remember a young woman saying to me, “I truly believe that if I sin today, God will strike me dead.” She misunderstands the heart of her Father.
Will God discipline? Yes, as a last resort. But when He does, let us remember Who it is that judges us. He is a Father who loves, longs to forgive, longs to bless, longs to restore, waits to give, and waits to redeem where we have allowed the wolves to feast at our table.
Whatever I receive by Your hand, You are gracious and You love me. In Jesus name, Amen