Love and Discipline
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. Hebrews 12:11
When my kids were growing up, my wife and I loved them and desired to provide a good life for them. We wanted to give them everything while protecting them from all trials, but that’s impossible. It simply wouldn’t be healthy to say yes to everything they wanted or to insulate them from every life difficulty. If we’d been able to do so, we’d probably have raised entitled, spoiled children.
Children don’t naturally grow into responsible, selfless, kind, compassionate, adults. We have great kids, but if they’d have been in charge of their upbringing, they would have turned out very differently. Kids can’t be the boss because they’re kids. They need adults to shape and guide them, sometimes saying no and sometimes providing discipline. To the child, this doesn’t seem fair, but in their limited scope, they simply can’t know what we know. As the adults, we must have the wisdom to say no and to provide discipline when it’s necessary.
In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews said that it’s the same with God. He’s the father, and we’re the children. We want life to be a certain way, so we go to God, asking him to shape our lives into what we want it to be. We think we know best. We know what would make us happy. We, however, are like little kids who simply cannot see the grand picture. God knows what’s best for us. So, he allows us to go through life trials, not to punish us, but to shape us. If we got everything we wanted, we’d be spoiled brats.
Sometimes – like in my addiction – it’s obvious that the pain I’ve gone through was a direct result of my self-destructive behavior. My suffering was my fault, and I could see how God was using it to transform me. Now, I can look back and be thankful for it.
Other times though, we go through things that just seem to make no sense. Why is God doing this to me? Endure hardship as discipline (Hebrews 12:7). Today’s passage says that in such times, we must look to God, asking him what he wants to do with our trials. What are you asking of me here God? The passage doesn’t say that God is punishing us. It does however teach that he uses our life trials to shape us because he loves us. We can’t always see it at the time, but God allows us to go through difficulties to transform us into who he wants us to be.