Difficulty as Discipline

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons” (Hebrews 12:7, NIV).
No one likes to undergo hardship. We flee from problems and flinch from pain. But hardship can help us.
The Hebrew Christians’ brand of hardship was persecution. Even more difficult, because one suffers unjustly.
But any hardship, any trial or pain, makes us cry and leaves us smarting.
The Hebrew writer gives us a new perspective in chapter 12.
First, see the difficulty as discipline, as God’s signal of love for his children. God doesn’t cause suffering, but he uses it for his purposes. For the saint, suffering makes sense. Pain means gain.
To help us see this truth the Hebrew writer cites the Bible — the Old Testament — in verses 5-6 and 13. He’s telling us, to get right perspective by reading the Bible. The world certainly won’t provide it.
Second, see the goal, not the suffering. The goal is life (verse 9) and sharing God’s holiness (verse 10). Worthy goals. Goals that we mustn’t lose sight of. The present moment’s pain would draw our eyes away from Christ (verse 3). We must resist to keep our focus on him and God’s presence.
Third, see beyond the moment to the long term. The “moment” of suffering isn’t pleasant (verse 11). It’s not a pretty sight to see. The drawing away of my selfishiness and improper desires and stubborness is a messy operation. Keep the mind fixed on “later” when the discipline we undergo produces “a harvest of righteousness and peace.”
If you want the cake without waiting for it to bake, you won’t make a good Christian. The child who runs from loving discipline will never amount to much. Nor to anything in God’s kingdom.
So buck up, embrace the hardship, endure the pain, keep your sights fixed on the goal, make the present work for the future.
That’s a good child now.


If you want the cake without waiting for it to bake, you won’t make a good Christian.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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