The Fatherhood of God: The Father who loves us enough to discipline us.
Read Hebrews 12:1-11
“He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.”
There are a number of reasons why we painful events in our lives. We suffer because we live in a fallen world in which sickness, death and tragedy are part of our existence. We experience struggles at times because of our identification with Christ (Job and Paul). We face adversity because it is part of God’s orchestrating of his plan (Joseph). But we often overlook that one of the reasons we suffer is due to God’s loving discipline.
When we became parents, it did not take long to realize that a child needs loving discipline. But discipline is never enjoyable, either for the child or the parent. For the child, disciple seems harsh and unjust (few children ever say thank-you after discipline). For the parent it is painful to cause suffering to our child that we love and would readily sacrifice our life to protect. Yet we realize that to be truly loving we have to be willing to discipline. One of the most unloving things we can do is give our children free rein without any guidance or correction. It is a recipe for disaster. A genuinely loving parent understands that a child is a sinner by nature and need correction to learn the discipline of controlling their sinful impulses. Love is not blind to sin.
This is the point that the writer of Hebrews is making in our relationship with God. We need to recognize that God’s love is purposeful love. While God accepts us in spite of all our failures and sins, he does not accept or ignore our sin. God grace should never be mistaken for blind acceptance of sin. God saves us to transform us into his image which is grounded in his holiness. This is what brings us to the Fatherhood of God. In verse 1-2, the writer challenges us to set aside the sin entangling us and pursue the person of Christ, seeking to develop his character within us. But how do we get from point A (a life entangled in sin) to point B (a life lived in fellowship with Christ and revealing his character)? The answer lies in the loving disciple of our heavenly Father. He recognizes that we cannot make this transition on our own, we need his loving correction and discipline. Consequently, God uses the struggles and trials we face to bring about this change. When God allows hardships, it is not because he is angry, indifferent, or even unloving. It is the very opposite. It is proof that we are his children (vs 7). It reveals that he loves us enough to bring his disciplining hand in order that we might attain the greatest gift of all, the gift of sharing in his holiness (vs 10). Not that our suffering brings us joy, but that the travail we face achieve within us the that which in the end brings the ultimate joy, the attainment of righteousness ((vs 11).
In times of difficulty, take hope. It does not mean that God has abandoned you or forgotten you, rather it is proof of the very opposite. When you are facing trials remember that God, like any loving Father, allows you to face trials and difficulties in order to mold and shape you to become like him. As you face the challenges you encounter, ask God to give you insight into what he is doing in your life and how, through this experience, you can learn to trust him more.