Hebrews 12:4-11 - In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." 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? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, 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? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 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.
I have met many people who have had terrible tragedies in their lives, and they fear that this is a punishment from God. They ask with tears in their eyes, "Did the car accident happen because of my sin? Did God let me get cancer because I did something wrong?" Some feel ashamed and guilty, though they don't know why. The tragedy is bad enough, but now they are also worrying: Is God angry at me? Do I have to carry this alone, without His comfort and strength?
Absolutely not. Listen to the Holy Spirit in this passage when He is talking about real discipline: He says, "God is treating you as sons ... He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." Discipline is something you do to people you love, and you do it for their good. It is limited, not destructive, and it has a goal—"the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
A life-destroying accident that happens with no rhyme or reason is not discipline. No loving parent would cause such a thing, and no child would benefit from it, either. No, these horrors are things that happen because we live in a broken world. God is not happy when they hurt us, and He wants us to turn to Him for comfort and strength.
It is true that God can take anything, no matter how evil, and bring good out of it. But that is not the same thing as saying that God intended it, or that the evil thing was a punishment. It does not mean that we should feel ashamed or guilty because something awful happened to us. Awful things do happen, and God grieves with us when we suffer.
If you are worrying about this subject, it's a good time to talk with a pastor or Christian counselor. And above all, keep in mind that the Lord who laid down His life for you and rose again to make you His forever is not someone who enjoys punishing people or who does it in a confusing way, so that people never know where they stand with Him. If you are going through great suffering, turn to Him for mercy and comfort. He will welcome you with open arms.
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, help me to see Your heart toward me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. What happens to a person who never receives any discipline at all?
2. What would you say is the difference between discipline and abuse?
3. Why does the author of Hebrews consider true discipline to be a sign of love and belonging to God's family?
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