Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive —then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11
Be honest. Did you read the first sentence, sigh, and skip over the rest of it? You’re not alone if you did. This is the dreaded passage, especially if we have a view of God that portrays Him as angry, nit-picky, and vindictive. Our instinctive response to a season of pain is to cry out, “All right, what is it I’ve done wrong?” I’ve certainly voiced that and it used to be often.
This is all pertinent to me right now as our family has sustained a year of one painful thing after another. It’s been so intense that there has been no choice but to internalize and embrace this passage. Let me personalize it and perhaps we’ll both love this scripture more than we did an hour ago.
The word discipline can be a trigger. Overly harsh parents, punishments that were doled out in anger, things said to kids like, “I’m doing this for your own good,” set us up view God’s face as our parent’s faces. That’s a tragedy. Discipline does not mean punishment. It means training and instruction. There must be a lot at stake to learn too, and good things at that, if God permits seasons of suffering. He wants nothing but good for us. He knows how internally blessed we will be if we learn to think and feel like Jesus. The pathway to that is oh so arduous.
God is not the schoolmarm who wields a yardstick and threatens, “Now, I’ll teach you.” This is training that, while hard to bear, comes from unfathomable love and patience. It is just as often whispered as it is heard in the claps of thunder. I know that the longer I resist the voice of God in my suffering, the longer the suffering might last. Not because He is cruel but because He loves me so much that He doesn’t want me to miss it.
The end of the passage promises that trials will yield the fruit of peace and righteousness. What does that look like? Here are some things I’m learning. It’s peace that doesn’t need a pity party. Peace that doesn’t strive with God to question what He’s doing. Peace that submits, like a child, and urges me to climb into the shelter of His embrace. It’s also righteousness. A kind that learns to think, by default, the kinds of things Jesus thought when His life got hard. It is a kind that sees suffering as a pathway to service and not something to resent. It is a kind that breaks all addictions to things outside of God, even people. That’s leads to joy, not torment.
Peace and righteousness. This is the design of all suffering whether it is because of the consequences of my sin or whether it is just the kind permitted by God for my sanctification. Either way, if I accept it and let Jesus share my tears and love Him through it, blessing awaits me and here’s the thing ~ it’s even possible to know both while the flames roar.
Thank you for the lessons. This is heartfelt but this is also said in faith, Lord. Amen