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.
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
we all realize from experience: there are parents who don¡¦t care about kids
one of the ways that shows „³ refuse to restrain / govern / correct child
if you love your child, you discipline her
you don¡¦t want her to grow up selfish, out of control, insecure, lazy, etc.
you want your kids to succeed, to develop self-discipline
no 2-year old appreciates a spanking!
they need it in order to understand the idea of boundaries
but they can¡¦t understand why you are doing that to them
no teenager appreciates being grounded
but need it in order to learn to make the right decisions
so we can affirm by experience and common sense what the Bible teaches¡K
that discipline really is a sign of a parent¡¦s love
Accepting Biblical truth, then, means¡K
B. YOU NEED NOT LOSE PERSPECTIVE WHEN TRIALS COME
1. If the quotation from Proverbs is true¡K
If God disciplines those he loves¡K
Then there are two immediate applications (6)
2. Application 1: Don¡¦t make light of God¡¦s discipline
don¡¦t undervalue the experience of suffering you are now going through
the writer will explain, in the rest of passage, why trials have great value
but consider: the 2-year-old gets angry when mommy takes the knife away
he found it on the table and wants to play with it
he can¡¦t possible value the discipline he just went through
but we¡¦re more mature than that, aren¡¦t we?
shouldn¡¦t we be able to appreciate God¡¦s discipline in our lives?
3. Application 2: do not lose heart