Cause and Effect
Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. Deuteronomy 4:36
If (or when) I ever get pulled over and ticketed for speeding, I tend to think of that as a natural cause and effect event. I generally do not think of such an occurrence as the discipline of God. I’m not entirely sure what I think God’s discipline should look like, but I see consequences for my actions simply a result of how the world works.
If I believe God made the world though, then the laws of cause and effect are of His design and thus, His will. My tendency to see cause and effect scenarios as natural (not divine) is an artificial (and inaccurate) construct of my own making.
In today’s passage, Moses told the Israelites that God would discipline them because they were His chosen people. God’s discipline often came as trials – brought about by their own actions – that God used to turn His people back to Him. Often, the Israelites would contaminate their worship with foreign gods and then those same foreigners would cause them significant misery. In their misery, the Israelites would return to God. Cause and effect. God used normal or natural events to shape His people.
When I realize that God created the world and its governing laws, the distinction between the natural and supernatural becomes blurred and I begin to perceive the shaping hand of God everywhere. When I encounter painful consequences or when I simply go through difficult times that are not obviously of my own making, I must go to God asking, What is it you want me to do? What can I learn from this? How can I grow closer to you in this?
Because God loves us, He disciplines and shapes us. If we refuse to turn to Him in our trials though, we will not learn, and we will continue to repeat our mistakes. If, however, we embrace His discipline, we will grow ever closer to Him as He shapes us into what He want us to be.