“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:3–11).
Despite all the strongholds God has smashed, despite all the positive growth and good fruit God has produced, in my life, I still fear that I grieve the Holy Spirit each and every day. When I think of suffering for Christ, my mind generally drifts to struggles that come along with things like religious persecution, but there are other kinds of suffering; the suffering of repentance and the discomfort of God’s discipline, and this suffering, as with any other forms, comes with the territory of being conformed into the image of Christ Jesus. So I consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that I may not grow weary and lose heart, because I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in my striving against sin; and too often I forgot this exhortation offered in Hebrews addressed to me as his son. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (12:3–11). And what joy this encouragement brings me, for I am but one son, among many sons and daughters.
There is a struggling side to the Christian life as well as a restful side. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). The Apostle Peter instructed the elders in 1 Peter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (5:6-11). Jesus said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us’” (Luke 13:24-25). And at the end of his life, Paul said in 2 Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (4:7). Keeping the faith is a fight to be fought, and a race to be run; we are called to strive, even agonize.
Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Even if my letter made you sorrowful, I don’t regret sending it (even though I felt awful for a moment when I heard how it grieved you). Now I’m over-joyed—not because I made you sad, but because your grief led you to a deep repentance. You experienced godly sorrow, and as God intended, it brought about gain for you, not loss, so that no harm has been done by us. God designed us to feel remorse over sin in order to produce repentance that leads to victory. This leaves us with no regrets. But the sorrow of the world works death” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Paul explains the mystery of the pain of discipline and godly sorrow, which leads to repentance, and of the ultimate victory and peace that results. No wonder popular biblical imagery is firing pottery in a kiln. Let us not forget that we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). Think of your perception of Saul, one day before encountering Christ on the road to Damascus, then think of the apostle Paul would later become; let that sink in for what it’s worth.
So, this has been another glimpse into my witness. Not quite the warm and fuzzy Christian motion picture in which everything is pretty much wrapped up in roughly ninety minutes. I value the opinions of others, but I find that trust isn’t something I give half-hazard. Platforms no longer impress me so much, nor do those touting their spiritual gifting and their misuse. People I once held in high regard, their counsel I am now reconsidering with sober judgement. The wickedness of the world is a no brainer, but the terrible yeast that has infiltrated the church I find most alarming. But I also realize that none of us have all the answers, and God works through broken vessels; therefore, I watch, I listen, and I pray.
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