"But Mom," my son cried. "I know I already did these math problems! I don't want to do them over again. My paper has to be somewhere!"
"I'm sorry," I replied. "You may have done them, but they're not here now. We've spent 15 minutes looking for your math worksheet, and it's nowhere to be found. You'll have to do them again."
Frustration crossed my son's face, but I resisted the temptation to let this missing assignment go unaddressed. Another precedent was being set, and my son needed to realize he was responsible for maintaining and organizing his work. My actions seemed tough, but I was considering the future. No college professor or employer would tolerate an excuse like "I had it somewhere, but I can't find it now."
Sometimes God has to be a tough teacher to us as well. King David's attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6 is a prime example. Although the Bible doesn't explain the reason, David neglected to transport the ark according to God's holy laws — on poles carried on the shoulders of the high priests (Exodus 25:14). Instead, David placed the ark on a cart, and Uzzah suffered death when he reached out to steady the ark when the oxen nearly upset it. David had done the right thing, but not in the right way. His irreverence for God's commands and holiness brought about God's response of tough correction.
How about you? Are you in the middle of the consequences of your selfish sin and God's tough love? Quit trying to fix things your own way. Let yourself be trained by His righteousness. You may have to suffer for a while, but even though you've failed, God's unconditional love will guide you to the next step. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed" (Hebrews 12:11-13).
God, forgive me for trying to fix my mess on my own. Strengthen me to learn from this mistake by Your firm but loving hand of correction. In Jesus' name, Amen.