Friday, June 26, 2020
Providence of Pain
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10
I never understood nor believed the phrases, “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you” or “This is for your own good” that my father often used before he disciplined me. Nor did I ever feel like thanking him for it later, like he often said I would. But having lived through the experience, I understand better now why it is important that I endure hardship as discipline. Though I must confess, it is still not a pleasant memory. But as beneficial to me as my father’s discipline usually was, the best either of us could hope for was a short-term gain and/or limited advancement in the development of my character.
Hebrews is not easy to read. John Piper writes, “The book of Hebrews is a very mature and sober book when it comes to the pain and stress of Christian living and the endurance that it takes to run the race and fight the fight and finish well.” This chapter uses nasty words like discipline, hardship, painful, and unpleasant and they never sound reasonable in the same context of “our good.” Some translations use the word “chasten” instead of discipline but chasten simply implies the fact of pain, while discipline includes the wholesome purpose of it. The implication is that discipline applied by our Heavenly Father is a far better balm than the discipline applied by even the wisest and most loving earthly father. The “good,” often translated “profit,” drives us to a share of ownership in God’s holiness, which is an eternal possession and richer blessing than temporary health, wealth, power, and popularity.