No one likes to face trials in life. But God does allow them. Why? The writer of Hebrews tells us in verse 10.
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
We are broken people in a broken world. But God’s goal is to heal us and make us into the whole people he created us to be. He desires to purge all the filth from our lives and make us holy as he is holy. To make us perfect reflections of him.
And he does so by fire. Our character is revealed by fire. What we really are is revealed, not during the good times, but during the bad. If our character is good, trials will reveal it, just as they did with Job. If our character is not, that will be revealed too as it was with King Saul.
But in facing ourselves for who we really are, we are then confronted us with a choice. To stay the way we are, unholy and sinful. Or to turn to God and cry out, “God I’m a wretch. Save me. Change me.”
And when we do, we will see not only God’s amazing grace, but God’s amazing transforming power.
As we listen to him and by faith obey him, doing the things he tells us to do, we’ll see him shape our character into his likeness.
Is it a pleasant process? Generally not. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
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. (11)
The question is again, though, what will we do when we are in the fire?
What should we do?
First look to Jesus.
Look to him in faith knowing that he started the process of salvation in your life, and he will finish it. He hasn’t merely said, “Well, I’ve given you all the tools to change. You’re on your own now.”
Rather he says, “Let me show you how to use those tools.”
And step by step he works with us. And he will not leave our side until the job is complete.
Look to Jesus knowing that he endured hardship too. He endured the cross itself. He knows how hard life can be. But his trust in the Father was rewarded, and he is now sitting at the Father’s side. And our trust too will be rewarded and we will be seated with him in glory someday if we persevere.
Second, remember that all that you’re suffering through is not because God hates you or is because he is sadistic, wanting you to suffer. Rather, he disciplines you because he loves you. He wants the very best for you.
Our earthly fathers may or may not have shown the loving discipline they should have. Their motives or methods may have been wrong at times. But God’s motives and methods are always pure and loving.
Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. (12)
Or, as my sister likes to say, “Buck up, baby.”
Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (verse 13 from the ESV)
In other words, do what is right. Follow the path God has shown you. You’re already lame. You’re already hurting. And if you keep following the path you’re on, your bones will go out of joint. But if you follow the path God is showing you, you will find healing. It may be hard. It may be unpleasant. But you will find healing.
What will you do?