“… for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”, Ps.23:4 

There is a difference between saying we believe in God and living with Him in such way that we cannot but believe. In the first option one dares not to doubt for the sake of the conscience one might have created around believing, while the other cannot deny God, or a holy living in Jesus, even if one wishes to. Job could not deny God and the conscience he had, which was structured according to truth and reality and was built on the rock. In the same way we read that those born of God cannot sin, breeding the same idea from the thought of the great treasure they have found, yes, but and above all, the treasure which possessed their hearts to such an extend that it becomes impossible to deny any of it were they truly honest.

In such a way and adding unto it a genuine knowledge and findings about God as He is (and not as we might suppose Him to be), knowing the kind of unwavering character He has, one might become able to be comforted through the discipline of that rod which hits to correct so we will be getting closer to the goal of His mind and will, it is, to make us like Christ. All people who end up becoming holy have gone through a primary step of desiring to be corrected God’s way. For all such people God’s rod and staff become a huge source of comfort, however displeasing and accurately it might hit them. When things are accurate, people cannot justify themselves anymore and when it becomes real and accurate, it becomes unbearable for any sinner who has no intention of becoming like Christ through God's discipline. One last escaping attempt or hideout for sinners is to do the things of God but not like they are done in heaven.

We should know God will never waver when He hits any of us to turn us like Him: He does not think twice about it, whenever we are faithful unto Him alone. We should also know that, if He hits us He won’t do it unless it is extremely necessary – but He will do it without a wavering remorse when He does so. And, above all, we must not have in mind that all people are the same as to need the same kind of discipline, nor that it is the will of God to achieve and shape up the same kind of character from all His saints. I mean that all need to holy, but not all need to be holy carpenters; all need to be holy, but not all need to be made teachers; all need to be holy, but not all need to become prophets or be made an encouragement to others or to show how to persevere through what he may suffer for the sake of the Kingdom inside him. We might say that different people have a different Will for them and have consequently different kinds of chaff which needs to be beaten out of them. And God does not beat them all after the same way or rhythm either, since people are different and His will for them differs even if they have the same kind of stubbornness rooted on different aspects of the different lives and backgrounds people usually have. 

Christian, take knowledge from the fact that there is chaff which protects the seed of wheat from birth up to the end, but needs to be beaten out after the seed is grown because God’s kingdom does not bear to take in that which is not eatable. We might argue that the wheat would not become grown up without that chaff which is able to sustain, carry and protect it from many things, including from being eaten by certain birds of the air. Till the harvest comes, chaff is a necessity, yes, but we may never regard it as making part of the wheat and the seed which God wants to collect unto Him without that chaff in the end. There might be a family, a business, a home, a pulpit, a praying time, a theology, a way of talking or walking, which may serve for the time being. But God will soon beat it out of us all. The end is to have Him alone, Him as he is and Him for always.

If we have the same goal as He, that is, to be able to bear with Him for eternity, to be like Him and to be with Him in the end – or to the end, which amounts to the same since whoever stays with Him to the end will inevitably have Him in the end for always – adding unto our thoughts the genuineness of the truth that we are indeed clean before God and not before men alone through a hypocritical look stamped on us; knowing also that God uses His rod to either keep Life in us or to make us alive; then we will find His rod a certain kind of proof that He is with us and not the opposite. The whole Ps.23 dwells around all of this, starting from the motives to the outcome, the certainty and the reasons for that kind of certainties. It is not easy to state that God is in us or with us when we think we suffer and walk through the valley of death and, for some people, when they do not achieve to those things they believe they must get from this earthly life in the timing they have set in their minds for God. John the Baptist almost lost all God conquered for him because the valley of death’s terrors made him forget he indeed saw the Messiah and the Spirit descending upon Him. We may even imagine how the devil got him to doubt probably because his valley was dark enough to question all truth since he would not have carnal sons on this earth to carry the name of his earthly father after his commission towards the Messiah ended.

We know many people do not get married in the world (those who do not have God) because they do not mix with the opposite sex by lacking time or disposition to do so. And there is a great resemblance between such and those holy people who do not mix with the opposite sex because they wish to marry in the time God set for them and with that person God Himself has determined alone (whoever he or she might be), keeping themselves clean in heart and thought. There are strong resemblances between those who wait for an order from God to do a certain business and a lazy man. There are outward and apparent resemblances between such who wait patiently on God and those who eagerly put themselves in a state of day-dreaming. People who have not God, if quiet and patient, they either have what they want or are living in illusion thinking to have what they do not have by shedding hope upon it by a way of dreaming. If they wish to attain to something they become frenetic and eager to achieve it, or put on a face to become or look just like that. But people who wait on God patiently are more active than anyone in the whole wide world, even when they do not move a finger due the absence of impatience. Time has come for them to believe that to be or to look impatient is not to be working, reliable or busy. To become engaged in God’s will is to be active even when still and quiet about it, and not to be frenetic and to look busy. God will surely do and faithful people can't miss it ever, one way or another.

It is obvious the rod will be lifted up or made light if certain things happen when that rod is being applied by God and not because we have sinned or have become addicted to some nowadays’ Christian doctrines of masochism. (We cannot become as Baal’s prophets in Elijah’s time, cutting our backs so God may look our way for some self-pity we may try to ignore to make ourselves look strong in our own sight). The motives to lighten that rod may only be God’s glory and not our own or our own lightness or our own infirmities or double-heartedness. If our intention is to know and to work with God, accompanying Him in whatever He is trying to achieve either in us or through us, detecting what God is aiming at with precision and not to be merely guessing about it, then we might make efforts to seed, plant and harvest with and through Jesus, even in our own lives and doings. And if our aim becomes as God’s, our attention will be lifted up from the rod to become concentrated in the fruit of the Spirit God is attempting to achieve in or through us (since God may wish to work things in or through others by our own example of suffering and perseverance).

If, however, God’s attempt is our personal holiness and nothing else, the rod can be easily lifted up by a pact to be made cooperative with God instead of resisting and complaining, and a consequent doing to its achievement and full consolidation will ease up the ways of God towards us (and any fruit is consolidated only when it becomes natural in or through us, kind of an unaware doing by God in us). When God’s aim is our tongue and we were able and willing to be made aware of that, we might put our shoulders under that same task with God and say to the Lord, “Lord, I will fully cooperate with you to make my tongue as sharp and as brave as Yours in such a way that none will see it in need of lifting itself up to be heard”. If one’s way, motivation and doings have become the same as the Lord’s, the rod might be lifted up or at least lightened. We just need to find out why that rod is being applied upon us, or what it pretends to achieve for us or in us. It will eventually be fully lifted up when all He wants is achieved, all His “good pleasure” towards us. We can be most sure of it being truly so – it will surely end soon.

The main thing that made me say some words about this is the fact that God would not beat chaff which has not good seed in it to be extracted that way. I do not believe God would loose His time beating wheat which has no corn hiding in it. If our lives are spotless or on the way of becoming as white as snow, we may rest assured God would not want us to believe that He is not with us because we are being beaten – whoever beats – since it is He who is beating to extract solid fruit from or for us. In that perspective His rod is a comforting thought and not a displeasing one at all.

Not all people have the rod applied the same way or for the same purposes and reasons. There are people who suffer more or even less than others, and that does not mean God is achieving something greater or brighter from them – even though it could mean that as well. God applies things harder or softer according to differences of Will for that body of different members we happen to be, aiming at different kinds of resistance and carnal strength.

Next time you experience the rod of God upon you, take careful diligence to reason out why or what about is it all. Maybe it will become lighter to you if you decide to cooperate with God in whatever way He is carrying out things in you, or towards whatever He is aiming at, or even line up through the ways  or methods He uses in applying it Himself in His best knowledge towards whatever He has in mind. Maybe the thought that you are beaten will be comforting and encouraging you instead of making you discouraged, enraged or carelessly spending time and resources and gifts because you became discouraged and aimless. There is no way complainers will ever enter God’s kingdom, nor people who are hypocritically quiet. A displeased-with-God person can’t be an assured or assuring one. And we cannot try to please God by changing our looks while having our hearts complaining and suppressed about something. We should rather enquire God about it all, just as Rebecca did and got answered about Esau and Jacob kicking inside her. The answer made her heart rest because she heard God. Only sheep hear God that way and that is a comforting thought, or at least it should be. See to it that you become able to say full-heartedly “Your rod comforts me, Lord”. Amen.

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José Mateus