‘In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 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! ” ( Hebrews 12:4-9 )
At one point in my life I was struggling with a situation at work. I felt that I had been treated unfairly. Everything I had worked for was taken away, renamed and given to another who had joined our team under interesting circumstances. To make matters worse, I felt that no one understood my position or validated the feelings of betrayal I had toward the company, toward this individual and toward my boss. It was a tumultuous time in my life both personally and professionally. I greatly struggled over the whole ordeal and after months, things did not get better, only worse.
One day, I went for a walk. While I walked I listened to scripture, it was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The words spoken were as relevant that day as they day He gave them. As I walked, His words burned holes in my chest. Each sentence spoken seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. At the end I was crying and I knew what I had to do. The Lord spoke into my heart that I needed to seek forgiveness from my boss, even though to me, I was the one who had been wronged. The Lord dealt very sternly with me, but as I responded in obedience He gave me the grace to go to my boss, ask forgiveness and then healing began.
After humbling myself, both my professional and personal life got better and I learned an important lesson. The Lord desires the finished product to be pure and refined. Although trials and the circumstances of life do not mean that the Lord causes them, He can and does use them to perfect us. Just as the writer notes in this passage in Hebrews, we should view hardship as discipline which validates our status as God’s sons and daughters.
God will speak truth to us in the midst of all circumstances in life. Sometimes, it is painful to hear but the outcome far outweighs the stretching and pain we experience in the midst. As in my example the primary way God corrects us is through His word. Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). David observed something similar in Psalm 94, “Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law” ( Psalm 94:12 ).
The word is the tool He uses to break the power of sin, pull down strongholds, correct us and train us in the way we should go. Just as our earthly fathers disciplined us in our youth so that we would turn out as good responsible adults, God also disciplines and refines us so that we are fully equipped and trained in righteousness. This is the perspective we need in the midst of all of life's circumstances.