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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

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

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