Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Encouragement I Need

From Jenny Sue Got Married, originally posted on August 1, 2011.

I often refer to this Scripture when faced with challenges: "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 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 our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, 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.

Believe it or not, people have disagreed with me about the application of this Scripture. (How can you argue with Scripture?) But I don't believe that the word discipline here means "punishment". Because then it would seem as if God were punishing us for our mistakes, but God is not in the business of punishment since he sent Jesus to take our punishment for us on the Cross. Obviously, there are still natural consequences for our sins, but I do not believe that God inflicts suffering upon us in order to punish. I DO believe, however, that He allows difficulty, hardship, challenges - even a stroke - to happen so that we will be disciplined, i.e. formed and trained, in holiness & trust in God.

During difficult times, we often run to the Lord and cry and beg and plead to be removed from our situation. But God wants to get us to the place where we are ready to let Him do His work in us. He wants us to cling to Him like never before and to accept the "discipline" He has for us; in other words, the training of our hearts. He wants to train our hearts to have greater trust, greater faith, greater love, and a deeper relationship with Him. He's not all about giving in to our whining and pleading just to get us to stop. He has a deeper purpose in letting us go through hardship. If we never had to cling to Him for dear life, we wouldn't develop the kind of relationship that He wants us to have with Him.

As I mentioned, I've read this particular passage many times before, but just recently as I shared the passage with my husband, for his encouragement, I read just a little bit further: "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." (vs. 12-13)

Whoa. How well does that apply to my disabled husband? To strengthen his feeble arms and weak knees? So that he may NOT be disabled, but rather healed???

As a friend of mine once said, "Lean into death" (She was talking about dying to ourselves and our own will, and surrendering to God's will.) It is much easier to cooperate with God during hard times than to fight Him to try to get your own way. He will have His way anyway, and if we cooperate, we will be strengthened and healed.

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