I recall an interview I once read of a young teenage girl. At one point in the exchange, she remarked, ”l know for a fact that my parents don’t love me.” Why do you think this teenage daughter said that? Here’s what ran through my mind when I read those words. Perhaps her parents didn’t let her go out with her friends as much as she would have liked, or perhaps when she did go out, they made her come home much earlier than she desired. Maybe they restricted the time she could spend on her phone and/or heavily monitored her use of it. Perhaps she was upset because they wouldn’t let her date. Maybe they consistently pushed her to complete her chores and homework assignments.
The interviewer probed, ”Why do you think your parents don’t love you?” She replied, “Well..it’s because they never tell me no. They let me do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. They treat me more like their friend than their child. If they really loved me, they would actually care about what I do or don’t do.” Are you surprised by this daughter’s response? I totally understand if you are, but I do wonder if we might be surprised to learn just how many teenagers have drawn the same conclusion about their parents.
In Hebrews 12:4-11, our Heavenly Father’s loving discipline is compared and contrasted with an earthly father’s loving discipline. Among other things, this passage echoes the wisdom of Proverbs 13:24, ”Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” A strong correlation exists between a father’s love for his children and his willingness to discipline them. But that’s not all. Like that young teenage girl, a child that is never disciplined may justifiably conclude that he or she is not loved.