What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the love of God? Salvation? Blessings He gives here? The promise of heaven? God surely shows His love through these gifts. But His love has another side that sends situations we may not recognize as being displays of His loving hand:
God takes. God gave His people food in the desert, but He also deprived them and let them go hungry at times. Why would God do that? He did it to test them and humble them; He did it to teach them that there is more to life than eating (Deut. 8:2-3). Sometimes God takes good things away from us because we take them for granted. He may deprive us of our health, our possessions, or our place. It is not best for us to have these things all the time. We are too selfish and prideful to enjoy them constantly without becoming independent and carefree toward God. So God sometimes takes away things you really like or love, and He does so because He loves you.
God prunes. In the figure of the vine and the branches, Jesus said the Father prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear even more fruit (John 15:2). Someone who is unfamiliar with pruning may see a gardener and ask, “Why is he cutting the branch of that healthy tree? Doesn’t he know he might kill it?” But pruning has been done for thousands of years. Gardeners know it will cause branches to grow even more. They also know just how much to cut off – not too much or too little. In the same way, God cuts us back at times. We may think, “I was doing good so why is this happening?” or “This is killing me inside.” But God is a wise and loving gardener. The pruning shears He uses hurt, but in the end they makes us more productive.
God scourges. “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). Do you believe God loves you as a Christian? Then that means He chastens you. Do you want to be a child of His? Then that means He will scourge you. The verse doesn’t say He spanks; it says He scourges His children. A scourge was a whip that inflicted severe pain. Romans and Jews used different kinds of whips to punish criminals. God scourges us to discipline us for our good. The whipping of Christians in the book of Hebrews was a great trial of affliction. For Christians today it can be any number of hardships. Whatever form the scourge takes, it is in the hand of a loving and caring Father in heaven.
The next time you question why things happen remember that God expresses His love in ways that bring pain as well as pleasure.