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Summary: The Bible sees hardship as God¡¦s loving discipline, which, as we submit to it, he uses to produce his character in our lives.

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Turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 12. We¡¦ve been talking in recent weeks about suffering, seeking to make sense out of the trials and hardships we go through in life. To start us off, I want you to think about what one couple has gone through¡K

Introduction: Video interview with a couple who endured a difficult time.

How should we view this situation? What does their trial say about God? Is there a perspective that explains what Gary and Allena have gone through? Or that makes sense out of the hardships you are going through right now? To be honest with you, why God allows suffering is one of the most perplexing questions of the Christian life. But the Bible gives a consistent answer. When you accept this answer, suffering is no longer hopeless or meaningless. The Bible sees hardship as God¡¦s loving discipline, which, as we submit to it, he uses to produce his character in our lives.

I. APPRECIATE HARDSHIP AS A SIGN OF GOD¡¦S LOVE (4-6)

¡§In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ¡¥My son, do not make light of the Lord¡¦s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.¡¦¡¨

A. GOD HAS ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOU IN YOUR TRIALS

1. The writer of Hebrews is addressing people who had suffered trials and made sacrifices for their faith

he wants to remind them of the biblical understanding of their trials

so he quotes Proverbs 3:11-12

then proceeds, for the rest of the passage, to explain it

2. If you, likewise, have been going through difficult times¡K

God has a word of encouragement for you

Do you remember it?

Maybe, as you face affliction, you don¡¦t feel like God is paying attention

Or that he cares about you

Prov 3 gives us two truths about God that encourage us

First: if God is disciplining you: it means he loves you

The trials he allows in our lives actually show his paternal care for us

God would not treat us with neglect / unconcern

Not allow us to grow up without direction / correction

Second: if you are going through times of chastening¡K

it is an affirmation that God accepts you / recognizes you as his child

3. This is absolutely contrary to what we normally think

most people assume: suffering proves that God does not exist

Or at very least: that he is not active in our lives

That God can¡¦t do anything about the hardships that come our way

But we assert, based on Bible¡K

hardships are a positive thing because they reflect God¡¦s love

To accept this: requires a view of life radically shaped by God¡¦s Word

If you¡¦re going to find any comfort / any purpose in suffering¡K

If your understanding of suffering is to go beyond the shallow conclusions of pop philosophy or traditional common sense¡K

Then you have to accept the Bible as God¡¦s Word

And the wisdom of the Bible as the final authority for how you think

4. But even common sense does support God¡¦s truth¡K


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