ENDURE HARDSHIP AS DISCIPLINE
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
~ Hebrews 12: 7-11 (NIV)
As we see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. Now he teaches us about the value of hardships and discipline that does not seem helpful but in the end produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.
Alexander was on his first research trip to Cuba for Open Doors. He asked a Cuban pastor what his needs were. He expected the response to itemize the many material needs that the churches in Cuba obviously lacked.
“The first thing we need is your prayers,” he replied, “to know the Body of Christ is with us.” Then he went on to list their tremendous need for Bibles, teaching aids, Sunday school materials and printing supplies. Then he concluded with the statement that they could use anything and everything. “If you send us just a bar of soap, we’ll be grateful,” he confessed. “We'll praise God for it!”
Alexander says, “I felt a big lump in my throat as I thought of all the Bibles, literature and freedoms I enjoyed. Yet even with all my blessings, my testimony was not as strong. So I struggled to articulate my feelings. ‘Pastor,’ I said, ‘I can only begin to sense and imagine the difficulties you have encountered.’”
The pastor’s eyes became misty and he softly responded, “Oh yes brother, we have been through the most difficult years. Yet we don’t fear persecution. As a matter of fact, we welcome it because it purifies us!”
Freddie Sun spent years in prison in China because of his Christian faith. Prison was literally a trial of fire for him. He worked in a factory making tee-joints from pig iron. Every day he loaded and unloaded the furnace which fired up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit. In the midst of this hell on earth, God spoke to him. “I have put you in this high-temperature furnace. Don’t worry—you won’t melt. But your impurities will be removed so you can become a useful tee-joint!”
RESPONSE: Today I will receive God’s discipline with the awareness that it is refining me to be more like Jesus.
PRAYER: Lord help me to accept hardship as Your discipline for my life. I look forward to the harvest of righteousness and peace.