“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
When I was in high school, every time my team lost, my coach made us run 10 miles at practice the next day. It was not easy. I wasn’t a long distance runner by any means – my knees can’t handle it. By the end, I’d be limping and exhausted. It was by no means pleasant. It hurt, it was hard, and I hated every second of it. But it made me stronger. And believe it or not, it made us want to win a whole lot more…and we did.
The writer of Hebrews compare the trials in our lives to this kind of discipline. He explains that every father disciplines their child. If a child isn’t disciplined, that’s not because their father loves them more, but probably because he doesn’t care about them. This is the Hebrews’ writer’s answer to why God allows bad things to happen to us. He says that the trials and the difficulties in our lives train us. They train us to be stronger, more resilient, more reliant on God, and more disciplined in our faith.
Of course, during the trials, things won’t be easy. It’s painful, maybe physically, maybe emotionally, maybe both. But don’t take times like these as some kind of sign that God doesn’t care about you. In fact, God alone gives us hope through these trials, as we know that he can produce something good from them in the end.
It’s hard to keep our focus on God and on discipline when things get difficult in our lives. He knows that. The difficulties we face don’t mean that God has left us, that he’s angry with us, or that he doesn’t love us. He’s with us through the deepest valleys we face. What the writer of Hebrews is trying to tell us is that if you can have the presence of mind to focus on Him through the trials, you’ll be able to see in the end how he used them to make you better, stronger, holier.
Our God is strong, and He loves us. He is able to turn even the worst of times into a tool for our future, a stepping stone for our faith, and a light for others. As you face your own trials, remember that God can use it for the better, that he’s making you stronger, and that you’ll be better off at the end. He won’t leave you, he won’t forsake you. He’s with you. He’s shaping you, molding you into the masterpiece he has planned.
It’s hard to see you in the hard times. It’s hard to think that you’d let bad things come our way. Help us to remember that you’re not punishing us with hardship or cursing us for any reason, but that in every valley you’re walking alongside us. Help us to remember that you will use our struggles for good, that you will make us stronger, and that we will come out on the other side looking more and more like you.
In Jesus’ Name,