14 November 2008

Discipline: It takes 2?

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. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
(Hebrews 12:11-13 ESV)

I slept on the couch last night.  No marital issues, just the flu.  It wasn't anything profound and I may be feeling better already, but when I got up this morning I was prepared to be greeted by Hebrews 12.  There were just enough things happening (the flu, behind in work, struggles leading/managing the home) that I was ready to hear about the role of hardship in the life of a believer.  I feel foolish mentioning all that as a basis for considering hardship and discipline (especially in light of my next post) but God is not constrained to save by many (hardships) or few.  

It seems clear from this passage that hardship alone is not enough to sanctify me.  I often think of God bringing hardship and somehow if I just passively survive it will have had a sanctifying effect on me.  The author of Hebrews is clear, we have to participate in hardship as discipline before it is productive. 

- Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:3 ESV)

-My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. (Hebrews 12:5 ESV)

-we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  (Hebrews 12:9 ESV)

-Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet  (Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV)

Consider Christ's suffering, don't regard hardship lightly (see a divine hand), be subject to the training of your Father, lift, strengthen and make straight paths.  I must, through faith, embrace the challenges of today as the good training of a perfect Father or any hardship is fruitless.  An athlete has no problem with the daily punishment of a difficult physical regime because HE SEES it as training for something glorious.  Without that same attitude, only one thing can happen in my hardship: I will grow weary and fainthearted.  

Are you having trouble grabbing this perspective?  Pray like Paul (and pray a lot!): 
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
(Colossians 1:9 ESV)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  (Colossians 1:11-12 ESV)


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