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The Father’s Greater Purpose

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A loving father never wants to see his child in pain. When a child hurts, a good father hurts along with him or her. Nevertheless, sometimes a father permits his child’s momentary discomfort to achieve a greater purpose. Good discipline may mean that a child experiences some hurt in the short term, but that brief distress yields a far more significant reward over the long haul.

Our home has a standard “one, two, three strikes” system of disciplining our children. The first two strikes act as “warnings” and the third results in a “consequence.” Often the warnings are sufficient to deter a third strike. However, we’ve given out our share of consequences—the usual is the loss of electronic devices the following day. Recently, I gave one of our daughters a warning, only to learn that my wife had already given her two earlier that day. When discovering that my warning meant a consequence, my initial idea was to take it back to assuage her pain. Still, I upheld our family disciplinary standard, resolving that a bit of discomfort in the short term would be best over the long term. The immediate evidence that it worked was that she spent the next day—when she ordinarily would be watching sitcoms—drawing a magnificent picture that now hangs on the wall in my office.

We read of our loving heavenly Father’s discipline in Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter described God’s plan to reveal the identity of His Son as the Messiah, all the while knowing it would cost the Son His life. The Father allowed Jesus to become the object of hostility, be betrayed, and pay the ultimate consequence on the cross. As Peter exclaimed:

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” (Acts 2:22-24 NLT) 

In Jesus’ case, He did nothing to merit “consequences.” He lived a perfect life and knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). This passage illustrates how the heavenly Father sometimes sovereignly permits momentary pain to accomplish a much greater purpose. Indeed, Jesus’ suffering on the cross represented the consequence that sinful humanity was supposed to endure. He stood in for the rest of us as a glorious substitute for our collective sin against an all-holy God (demanding a consequence much more dramatic than losing electronics for a day!)

Let us take heart in knowing that the present hardship we face may be an instance of godly discipline, as the loving Father above accomplishes a work far more immense within us: For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17)! God’s master plan will use that trial for something greater still.

Heavenly Father, accomplish Your purpose in my life today. Remind me that the pain or heartache I presently undergo serves some more excellent end, perhaps one I never considered. Thank You for Jesus’ example, His precious sacrifice, and every day shaping me more and more into His perfect image.


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

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About The Author

Dr. Paul Palma
Dr. Paul J.

Dr. Paul J. Palma is a Regent University professor and the author of three books, including Embracing Our Roots: Rediscovering the Value of Faith, Family, and Tradition. He’s also a worship leader, husband, and father of three who enjoys spending time with his family on walks, trips to the beach, and reading.

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