How is your life enriched, made deeper and more fulfilling?
Some folks work on their lives by physical discipline, training their body to endure and become resilient, running, walking, weight training and exercise. In this way they find out more about themselves and deepen their ability set.
Others travel, often to as far as their skills and abilities will take them. Whether it be on the well-trod path of hotels and interstates, or deeper into the backcountry and wilderness. They discover much about the world and the creatures that live in it.
Others, like me, don’t get out much, so we read. We like to read, expand our mind’s limits, live someone else’s life for a little while, or deepen our understanding of the world around us, even the unseen world of the Spirit.
I can’t tell you which of these is better. I think we all need all three, and the many more options that are out there. But there is one area that I know no one wants any more knowledge about: suffering.
The Lord chastises those He loves, but He seems to have favorites, doesn’t He? I have heard some of the worst tales of woe a person can hear. Man’s cruelty to his fellow man knows no bounds. But hard times are not always evil done by others. Sometimes God chastises is for our good, giving us the oxgoads and the pricks instead of honey and milk. Have you ever made a decision without God and immediately regretted it? Took a job without holding it up in prayer and realizing you have made a terrible mistake? Joshua and the Israelites did that once when the Gibeonites deceived them. Joshua was so confident in the rightness if his decision the text says very pointedly that he did not consult God. The Gibeonites became servants, but were also a thorn in their side.
But the discipline of the Lord can also be preemptive, because He knows what’s coming, so he prepares us ahead of time with hardship. Like when Joseph was sent to Egypt by his brothers. What they intended for evil, God intended for good, through His slavery and imprisonment, Joseph learned and became Prime Minister of the most powerful country in the world. Why? So he could save his family from the coming drought. He learned through hardship the discipline needed for hard times.
Not everything you suffer from is your fault. In fact, I suspect the majority of it is not. I believe suffering can be punishment from God, but it it can also be training. It can be God punishing someone else and you are caught in the crossfire. It can be the evil of this world, through which God will see you through.
Whatever you are going through today, let us pray with you, not only to hear through it, but to learn from it, if there must be anything to learn.
In talking with many caught with medical issues after a long period of health, I’ve found that many blame God for their illness. They say, “I’ve been good. Why is God punishing me?!” My response is often, “Maybe God wants to know if you will love Him no matter what happens to you. Is God only worth loving when life is going your way? Does He deserve your praise only as long as He gives you what you want?” Many of us are learning the lesson Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
I do not presume for speak for God, as He is fully able to do this for Himself. But may I suggest that the discipline of the Lord is always a good thing. It produces a harvest or righteousness and peace for those trained by it.
God bless you today!