“And have you forgotten the word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines He loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?’” Hebrews 12:5-7 (to understand the terminology of “sons” listen to Ed’s sermon 17 June, 2018 on Corsham Baptist Church website)
The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us by explaining the purpose of our hardships and trials. It isn’t that God is being harsh or unloving. It is the opposite! He is our Father who loves and cares for us, not one who is unhappy with us.
To make light of the Lord’s discipline is to see it as something to be endured and gotten through quickly or to find relief. We don’t see God’s hand and purpose in these hardships. Also, to lose heart is to see God as an angry task master instead of our Father who loves us.
This is difficult to put into practice in real life, isn’t it? There was a time in my life when I just wanted to find relief through drink or food. At the same time I accused God of not being there for me. I doubted His goodness and love. I realize now that God was correcting and rebuking me in my disobedience. Life wasn’t working. My misery was His blessing and grace to me. Through God’s grace I grew in Christ. As I continue to mature in Christ, I am beginning to really understand this Hebrews passage. These last fifteen years I have seen it differently as I meet with hardship and live with my thorns. I’m learning to cling more and more in faith to the testimony of Scriptures. I look to sisters in Christ to stand in the gap with me through prayer, accountability, and wise counsel. My church family are a source of Jesus’ hands and feet to help me keep my eyes on Christ, ever drawing me back to seeing not only my hardships, but all of life through God’s perspective and Gospel lens. Sadly, my “easier” times have produced more fruit of self-sufficiency, pride and selfishness and less of Christ likeness. My world didn’t get bigger, it got smaller because it was all about me!
There will always be the tension of this in our lives…..that is why we need the clarity to know the grace of God-the free and sovereign work of God to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves, even though we don’t deserve it. God gives us this grace… through our thorns, our weakness, our hardships. It is through the grace of hardship that God conforms us into the likeness of Christ.
So be encouraged my friend. God is working His purposes through this discipline of hardship.
Romans 8:28 says this: “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Believe it. Pray it. Let it fill your heart today and give you God’s peace; the only peace that works. The only peace that lasts.