Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. Hebrews 12:7

Hardships come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from minor annoyances—car breakdowns, uncooperative bosses and inclement weather to huge Job-like disasters. Often we think of hardship as something to be avoided at all costs and something to pray against. However, this isn’t how God sees hardship.

God allows hardships to come across our paths as a discipline. God freely admits, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” Yet we’re told to look at the results, “a harvest of righteousness and peace,” but only to those “who have been trained by it” (verse 11).  Hardships give us the opportunity to learn, to grow and change but if we resist the discipline we miss the training and the rewards.

The writer to the Hebrews isn’t telling the readers anything new. Moses wrote, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you” (Deuteronomy 8:5). This isn’t a happy thought we don’t relish the idea of discipline or the idea of being treated like a child in need of discipline.

However, we’re also told God only disciplines those he loves (verse 6). Therefore we consider the big picture of God’s purposes, he only allows those hardships which will be of long term benefit to us. J. Oswald Sanders wrote (in the foreword of, Green Leaf in Drought), “God does not waste suffering, nor does he discipline out of caprice (unaccountable change of mind). If He ploughs, it is because He purposes a crop.”

Remembering long term gain in times of hardship isn’t easy as our emotions want instant answers and instant relief, but we can trust in God’s character and rely on his goodness.