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Remember, our plotting is unfinished, but God’s training and strength-conditioning is already there for us. I want to talk about this chastising, sometimes translated as punishing, and which I have translated as "training." I have something in mind. The Hebrew verb means to provide corrective and instructive punishment.

As corrective and instructive punishment, I like to think of it in terms of "Victory Hill." When I was in high school, I was far too little and uncoordinated to compete on any of the athletic teams. But one day, I overheard some of the varsity football players talking about "Victory Hill." They were speaking of Victory Hill in terms of how many times they had been forced to run up and down it with full gear on. Later, when the football coach was also my regular PE teacher, I found out about Victory Hill up close and personally. Victory Hill referred to the stands on one side of our football practice field (we shared the actual stadium where the games were played with another school).

When the coach was annoyed at us, he would have us make 10 or 20 round trips up and down Victory Hill. We would run from the bottom of the stands to the top and back. He called it Victory Hill for the football players, because he believed that the conditioning they received from running up and down these steps would prepare them for victory. If they really wanted to win, he had told them, they would need to become acquainted with Victory Hill.

Those of you who saw the wonderful movie about the miraculous Olympic hockey win at the Lake Placid Olympics, Miracle, may well remember the scene when the team had gone overseas to play another national squad. They had tied the other team, but that wasn’t good enough for the coach. So, after that game, he had his assistant blow the whistle over and over again. They would then do wind sprints from the goal line out to the red line (I think) and back. Whatever they did, they were dog-tired, but this session of whistle-skate, whistle-skate became emblematic of the superior conditioning on that team, conditioning that allowed them to defeat the Russians.

Whenever God punishes us, it is intended to correct and strengthen us. If we turn aside from God instead of responding positively to this, we are rejecting Him. The bottom line is that even in spiritual warfare, even in everyday life, we need our Victory Hill. And God is the only One who knows what conditioning we really need in life.

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