God's Discipline & Love: Two sides of one coin | Hebrews 12:6-7
Yesterday driving home after a drink with friends, I heard a pastor preaching on Hebrews 12. The speaker was sharing a personal story of sin, prayer and suffering, and her vulnerability drew me in.
In her youth, Joni Eareckson Tada was struggling with sexual sin. She recalls declaring Christ's divinity, but admits her lifestyle was in-congruent with Christ as King. The story comes to a head after a night of tearful prays for God's intercession, which she explains was answered 3 months later when she broke her neck in a diving accident.
She recalls the anger and judgement she cast upon God for His choice, and this injury, but years later she lifts that moment up with gratitude for all that it set in motion for her life.
During the conversation Joni referred to Hebrews 12:6, so of course I had to look it up. Let's read the verse and discuss it further.
Hebrews 12:6-7 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Discipline & Love: Two sides of one coin
A loving father must discipline his child, and God is no different, Joni said. In her life, and in our own, we begin by doubting God's control in it, but if we can trust by His sovereignty then we can learn to see His good purposes in all things. The key she said is understanding that "God's discipline is not retributive, rather it is restorative".
While listening to this woman rejoice over her broken neck, I was reminded of my own struggles. My daughter has seizures, a rare muscular dystrophy, and most children with her disorder die before age three. Praise the Lord, Lulu just turned four!
I am not glad my daughter has these difficulties. Yet, I do admit my God loves Lumina more than I know, and He is working all things for His own glory and our greatest good. Therefore, I can stand in hope that even this disorder, in the fullness of time, will be something I stand in awe and gratitude over... but I am not there yet.
For now the best I can do is regularly declare my trust, hope and faith in Christ's work, knowing full well He is God, and capable of painting beauty with ashes. Praying "Lord help my unbelief".
So, to hear this evangelist speak on her loss, pain, doubt, and suffering, which God turned into joy was a great encouragement.
And while simultaneously understanding, not all physical suffering is a result of sin (John 9:1-3), surely this doesn't mean that none of our suffering comes out of our sinfulness. In fact we have a lot of scripture that points to God using our greatest mistakes, which are sin, to work His glory and purposes, look no further than Adam & Eve in the garden.
Their choice to eat the fruit was sin, and that sin had direct, unfortunate, consequences. Nevertheless, God worked even that failure into a beautiful rescue story, through Christ Jesus.
Just as a loving father disciplines his child when they make a foolish decision, so to God disciplines His children also.
This doesn't mean every victim needs to self-reflect on their choices, but it does mean that all life, pain and joy, are under the sovereign control of a good and loving father. Far from being unfair, or alarming, this should be a relief. We should hear this and rest easier that come what may, God is over all things, working all for His own glory and the greatest good of those who love and serve Him. (Romans 8:28)
Thoughts & Prayers:
So by these personal stories, and God's Holy Word, we can see and know that He is good, faithful and loving, by which we might hope and trust during challenge and loss, that He is with us, He is for us, and He loves us more than we know.
Lord, may a faith and hope so grand overcome our hard hearts today. Give us your Holy Spirit, so that we might live out of hope, joy, faith and trust, by your power. Might our lives be transformed today, so that we might shine differently in this dark world, for your Kingdom, your glory, and for the good of all those who bend before your throne. Lord help our unbelief.
Mark 9:24 English Standard Version (ESV)
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
As always, thank you for your time and attention. I hope you have an amazing day, God bless.
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