Difficult times come into everyone’s lives. Incomes drop, jobs are lost, loved ones die too young, health issues, relationship struggles. We all face some difficult situation that drives us to our knees. Some of us are blessed with hardships. It seems like we are similar to Job. One difficulty or trial comes after another, like labor pains when we are about ready to push. There is no time between hardships as they crash against our souls. Some of us have smoother roads with hardships scattered between like valleys and canyons between mountaintop victories.
No matter how or when they come, we have decide our reaction to these times. How are we going to think about the difficult business situation or the new diagnosis or the loss of a child? Are we going to shake our fist at God? Spewing hate and demanding that we deserve better? Are we going to blame someone, something? Finding a scape goat for the pain we are enduring? Are we going to carry around guilt and blame ourselves? Our choices have contributed to the hardship so are we going to walk the road of self-condemnation?
God’s word tells us the truth about these times. No matter how they come to us. He tells us in Hebrews 12:7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
Don’t take this wrong. Discipline can mean punishment, but it also means training. Yes, God allows hardships in our lives to discipline us for the wrongs we have done. Oh, but His discipline isn’t like our imperfect discipline. He doesn’t almost blow His top and then start screaming, “Off with their heads,” as I am apt to do. However, He also allows hardships to train us.
Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 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.”
So the hardships that we face in our lives are training us. In fact God says that He disciplines us so that “we may share in His holiness.” God is more interested in us being holy than happy.
How does knowing this change how I see hardships? I am going to view hardships as training. They are not fun times, they are not easy times, but they are training moments. God is teaching me to rely on Him, to give grace, that I need grace. He is purifying my life so I am more like Him. He is showing me the ugliness still in my heart. He is training me. I just need a willing heart to learn His lesson.
Currently God is teaching me His sovereignty through some hard times. He is in charge of it all even when it seems chaotic. He uses our sin, others sin, our wise choices, our poor choices, everything to accomplish His perfect plan. He won’t hesitate to use a severe mercy to shake us out of ourselves so that we can say no to self and yes to Him. I am humbled by His sovereignty.
What lesson or lessons has God been teaching you through hardships? I would love to hear from you.