"Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty."
Lou Holtz, former head football coach of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, is legendary in his adherence to discipline. In an interview with The Saturday Evening Post in 1989, he was quoted as saying, "When it comes to discipline here, we ask three questions: Will it make him a better man? A better student? A better athlete? If the answer is yes, we make him do it. The next step is up to him. An individual has a choice when you discipline him: either to become bitter or better." Judging by his squad's record, both on and off the field, Lou Holtz's charges for the most part became better men.
Job's friends failed to understand God in many ways, but Eliphaz the Temanite was right in this respect. God's discipline is never meant to destroy but ultimately to bring joy. The word in this verse for "happy" (also translated "blessed") literally means "to walk straight." God's correction is given to keep His people from wandering away from the straight path and getting into situations that bring pain and heartache. Those who submit to His guidance will avoid many of the experiences that bring unhappiness to others.
God's discipline doesn't always feel good, especially if we fight against it. The writer of Hebrews confesses, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous" (12:11). Yet the writer continues, "Nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." A right relationship with God ultimately leads to a happiness that makes everything else seem insignificant.
Are you undergoing the chastening of God right now? If so, look ahead to the fruit He will bring out of this difficulty. Remember that God is seeking to correct your course so you can avoid future pitfalls that will bring you even greater pain. Let Him have His way in your life even if, at the moment, it's hard to bear. You'll be glad you did!
Pain now means gain later.