Love provides what is needed and not always what is wanted. In fact, acts of love can be outright painful. But tough love endures the pain of heartache in order to bring good.
Parents sometimes have to discipline their children. And as heartbreaking as it is to see their child suffer, they allow it as a means for their child to grow into a healthy well-functioning adult.
To refrain from needed discipline might keep the child happy, but it’s not in their best long-term interest. And it’s not love. Love does what is good and not necessarily what will make the other happy.
Scripture reminds us that God’s discipline also proves his love. He’s willing to let us suffer for the purpose of bringing out the best version of ourselves.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for others is to let them suffer through the natural pains of growth.
This is not to be mean or vindictive. The goal is not to harm.
It’s still love in that it’s seeks the good. But it’s also tough love in that it’s willing to allow for heartache and pain in order for the true good to emerge.
For example, it’s allowing a child to suffer the consequences for forgetting his homework, or refusing to keep bailing out a friend financially for poor life decisions. It might also mean no longer ignoring hard conversations in marriage and pretending things are okay.
By definition, tough love is not comfortable or pleasant, which is why many of us avoid it.
But true love is willing to endure whatever is necessary for the good of the other, including hard moments of being disliked.
Love is not a popularity contest. Bring good even when it’s tough.