God is holy.
He is set apart.
He is not like us.
Just as he called Israel to be a part of his story, he calls us.
He loves us with an everlasting love.
We can never earn this kind of love--it is given freely.
Nevertheless, to enter into relationship with God, we need to pursue holiness.
I don't mean perfection, following all the rules, never making mistakes.
No one can achieve that. I mean, we live for God. We set aside our individual stories, to live God's story. We seek him. We serve him. We love him.
God disciplines Israel in order to restore his relationship with them, to draw them close to him, so that they can once again be set apart to join his story. He promises that afterward, he will restore them. He says, "I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt." (v. 4)
They mourn now, but they will not mourn forever. They will bring out those tambourines again, they will dance again and sing joyfully, they will plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit.
When our relationship with God is broken, God's discipline draws us close to him.
That's why the writer of Hebrews says, "Endure hardship as discipline . . . God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:7-11)
I don't enjoy God's discipline, but I long for God's presence, for joy, for dancing, for peace.