O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. (Ps. 99:8)

MY POOR PARENTS. Though I wasn’t the worst child growing up, I sure wasn’t the best either. Having a temper and being the middle child of three boys, I remember being in trouble quite often. Whether it was really my fault or not may still be debatable, and a person may get different answers depending on which brother is asked.

One time when it was my fault, however, I remember accidentally breaking one of my mom’s Precious Moments figurines as I chased my younger brother through the house . . . with a wooden spoon. He was misbehaving, and as the good pastor’s son that I was, I took it upon myself to punish him since my parents were next door at the church.

Needless to say, I was definitely punished for my actions, and I deserved it. But seeing my mom’s grace and forgiveness toward me during that experience has been a lasting example of what God’s grace and forgiveness is like.

Similarly, Israel seems to have continued riding the rollercoaster of poor choices/good choices. And though they would come back to God in times of repentance, they still needed to experience the punishment for their times of poor choices and misdeeds.

God never breaks His promise to His people, and He continues to provide forgiveness, for they are His children and He loves all of His children unconditionally.

Thank the Lord for His forgiveness even in times of punishment.

Traver Paul Butcher, a PhD candidate in international psychology and missions coach, has a passion for helping individuals encounter God in international and cross-cultural experiences.