By Nate Keeler, MBC Arlington Pastor
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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
C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain describes how warped our view of God’s love and goodness often is. He says, “What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we would like to be doing, ‘Well what does it matter as long as they are contented?’ We want in fact not so much a father in heaven but a grandfather in heaven. A senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘would like to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that at the end of each day a good time was had by all.”
Sounds about right, doesn’t it? We sometimes twist our view of God to fit our own interests. But as a father of two boys, I know that what my boys need in order to grow into honorable and mature men of God is NOT a benevolent “senile” grandfather but a father who is prepared to do what is necessary to produce a harvest of maturity in my boys.
Sometimes my boys don’t understand or enjoy the disciplines Shannan and I seek to instill in their lives, whether it be chores, memorizing Scripture, helping them learn how to read, eating balanced meals, family devotions, etc. If they had their way they would be snacking on junk food instead of eating their broccoli, playing video games instead of reading and watching cartoons instead of doing chores. Even though in the moment it seems more loving for us to always give them what they want (who doesn’t love bringing a big smile to their faces?), the most loving and good thing we can do as parents is provide discipline.
Guess what? As adults we are often no different with our Father in heaven than children are with their parents! This is the point of our passage and one of the most important aspects of developing a biblical worldview.
Hardships and discipline don’t automatically produce endurance, righteousness and maturity. Only those who learn to be trained by God’s discipline will reap this harvest as verse 11 concludes. While we don’t enjoy the discipline or often even understand it in the moment, the secret is to take the long view. God is treating us as legitimate children. He loves you and I too much to leave us the way we are, just as I love my boys too much to let them turn into couch potatoes!
What is your heart’s disposition toward the hardships in your life right now? Are you allowing God to train you as His son or daughter? Or are you resisting and resenting it? Open your hands to God and allow Him to produce the harvest in your life!