We have had a rough September and now the clean-up continues. It is the beginning of the Fall and the weather is going from hotter to hot. I love the Fall and the atmosphere around and among people at this time of year. We will soon be looking forward (or not) to Halloween and Thanksgiving and Advent. Deer season opens for many people and it is the time when school is rolling right along and the children are settling in to routines that they haven't experienced since the last school year.
This got me to thinking about what I think about every year...having to discipline children if they misbehave or are not doing what they know they should be doing and enduring the hardships of life.
The children I know are my children and I will treat them as I would a father.
“The Lord disciplines those he loves … God is treating you as sons” (Hebrews 12:6, 7).
The idea of God’s “Fatherhood” owes its origin to the patriarchal culture of biblical times. The Jews of Jesus’ day lived in a world dominated by the influence of fathers. When the author calls God their father, to his readers this meant that He was a benevolent authority figure who acted toward his children in sovereignty and love. A father disciplines his children because he loves them.
There have been hurricanes and earthquakes that have affected us and many that we know. So, why do the righteous suffer?
“Endure hardship as discipline … God disciplines us for our good” (Hebrews 12:7, 10).
The Bible does not ignore this question. In fact it offers a number of possible answers: we live in a fallen world (Genesis 3:14ff; Romans 8:18-25), we are “tested” by suffering (Job 2:8-12; 3:3-10; Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 4:12ff), we are “matured” by suffering (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-4), God can be glorified in our suffering (John 9:1ff).
Maybe, God is using this persecution to chasten his children and to bring them to spiritual maturity. This is suffering as a negative means to a positive end. God is permitting and even employing their suffering to summon forth holiness, righteousness, and peace.
Only a fool would pretend to understand suffering fully and only a sadist would claim to enjoy it. But this at least can be said. There is in the struggles of life a catalyst for spiritual development which no other force can supply. Pain has the power to summon forth from us that which we find most difficult to surrender—uncompromising faith in God and unqualified love for God.
C. S. Lewis describes the role of suffering in the life of the believer as “soul-making.” It is the shaping of the Christian with the hammer and chisel of adversity. Lewis also said “God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our consciences; but shouts in our pains.”
Yours in Christ