December 6 I Thursday
1 John 5
“But God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.” —Hebrews 12:10
When we try to run from God, we normally flee to noise, to busyness, to people—to anywhere we can drown out our thoughts and God’s voice. But eventually, God will bring us to a place where we are alone with Him, as He did with Jonah. Jonah’s attempt to flee to Tarshish had failed. He had been thrown over the side of a ship, swallowed by a fish, and he was now cornered by God in a place of utter solitude and discipline.
We have a tendency to think all discipline is negative, but that is not its intent. The author of Hebrews writes of discipline encouragingly, recalling from Proverbs, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son” (Hebrews 12:5-6). It is for good reason our English words “disciple” and “discipline” come from the same root. Discipline executed properly is done out of love and for our good to build us up.
Hebrews continues, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children” (Hebrews 12:7). When a parent stops disciplining their child, they are not expressing love for them. The purpose behind parental discipline is not to exact punishment but to improve their child’s character, molding them to be good, obedient and happy. Similarly, the purpose behind God’s discipline is “that we may share in His holiness”—that we may be set apart for His purpose.
This discipline is often expressed through hardship. The moment Jonah began to run in the wrong direction, God made it hard for him. The Lord sent a great wind and a violent storm, and it was when Jonah hit rock bottom that he finally became ready to deal with God. We must not interpret every tough situation we go through as a punishment from God, but every tough situation is an opportunity to respond in a way that enables us to grow in godliness and goodness.
We learn more from our tears than from our laughter. Where challenges make some Christians collapse, others come out of them more beautiful, as through a refining fire. Some of us may think of the difficulties in our lives, “If this could just be taken away, I would be a much better person.” It may seem that way during our trials, but more often than not, this journey of discipline is the very means by which God is molding us to be more holy and Christlike people.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your discipline. Though it may hurt in the moment, I know that You are molding me because of it.