Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. (Hebrews 12:7)
There is a special hope contained within every hardship, and the book of Hebrews both comforts us and challenges us with this truth. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never found the divine discipline of hardship delightful. I cannot remember a time when I was experiencing some form of hardship and thought to myself, “This is so helpful to me!” Hardship never seems to be helpful; it usually feels hurtful, doesn’t it?
There is, however, hope in every hardship because of the One who sends difficulty to us as discipline. If God did not love us, He would not care what we are doing. He would watch from a distance as our wheels came off the track and we drove ourselves into a ditch. But throughout the pages of Scripture, we see how God cares for His children and refuses to allow us to shipwreck our lives. When we begin to veer off course, God sends some holy hardship to get our attention and get us back on track.
Take notice of the second half of today’s verse: God is treating us as His children. Which parent loves their children more? The one who wants to be their children’s best friend and allows them to do whatever they want? Or is the truly loving parent the one who understands the profound responsibility a parent bears to course-correct when the child is heading in the wrong direction? The answer is obvious. When we are being disciplined by God, we should see hardship as His loving guidance and look for the lessons He is trying to teach us. The hope in hardship is a holy hope, because is comes from our Holy God, who is conforming us to the image of His Son by any and every means necessary.
It is important to remember that when God is disciplining us, He is not delivering a punishment or penalty. Jesus took all our punishment and paid the full penalty for every one of our sins on the cross on the hill Golgotha. Because of this, we can trust that God’s discipline is not punishment, but protection; our gracious, loving God is protecting us from our sinful self and sheilding us from the damage we do to ourselves and others when we drift away from His plan and purpose for our lives.
If you are in the midst of a season of hardship right now (or the next time you find yourself in such a season), let these three benefits of divine discipline both comfort and encourage you:
- Hardship as discipline is proof God loves you.
- Hardship as discipline is proof you are His child.
- Hardship as discipline is conforming you to Christlikeness.
This is why Paul could write to the Christians at Rome that, in addition to rejoicing in the glory of God, “We also rejoice in our sufferings.” And Paul did not stop there. He explained why:
Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Our loving Lord, He who is our gracious, heavenly Father, is working all things together for our good, just as He has promised (Romans 8:28). There really is some holy hope in hardship, wouldn’t you agree?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!