No One Likes a Strep Test
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19
I still spend part of my week working in Urgent Care, where a sore throat is a common complaint. Often, we must perform a swab to determine if that sore throat is caused by strep. Kids don’t like this – no one does – but parents understand it must be done. When gently coaxing doesn’t work on a three-year-old, sometimes, the parent must simply hug the child’s arms to his (or her) sides, and I must perform the swab against the will of that struggling toddler. Parents, for the most part, understand that it’s uncomfortable, but that for the good of the child, it has to be done.
Occasionally though, I’ll get a parent who asks the child if he wants it done. I’m always stunned. Of course he doesn’t want it done! He knows it will be uncomfortable and he can’t possibly comprehend the complications of untreated strep infections. At those times, the parent must be the parent, making the difficult, but painful decisions for the good of the child. If the child got do everything his way, he’d be a terrible child and if he survived to adulthood, he’d become an absolute monster. Children need discipline, rules, and guidance for their own good.
We are God’s children. As his children, the wisdom gap between God and us is profoundly greater than that between a parent and a three-year-old. God knows all and sees all. We only grasp a tiny fraction of space and time. The problem is that, just like the three-year-old, we don’t comprehend the knowledge gap between God and us. Absurdly, we still insist that we know what’s best. Thankfully though, we have a father who loves and disciplines us.
In my own addiction, I begged God to miraculously take away my self-destructive appetite. He didn’t. He told me to confess, get help, go to treatment, and change my life. I refused and again demanded that God just miraculously do it all. What would I have learned if God had granted my instant miracle? I’d have learned that I can do whatever I want and that God will magically clean up my mess. To this, he said no. I hated it, but for my own good, God allowed me to suffer the painful consequences of my addiction so that I might begin to learn what it means to abandon self and follow Christ. I didn’t like it, but it was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t comprehend it at the time, but I can now look back and see that it was because God loved me that he disciplined me. For that, I’m thankful.