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Faith and spirituality in a modern world

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[5] Hardships in life

Dazed child lying on the floor.Does God put us into hardships? Does He discipline people?

(This article based on Genesis 7:5-7 which is included at the foot of the page)

Have you noticed how Jesus spoke to the people He met?
Did He say to the blind man: “If you go to the pool and wash, you will be healed.”? Or, “Go! Wash in the pool of Siloam”?
Jesus told him to ‘Go!’
Many times Jesus would give a command in a gentle way. Like:

Get up, take your mat, and go home.”

How do we view God’s commands?
Our old life shies away from any commands, but as believers we know we should be obedient.
There is always the temptation to almost fully obey.
For example, a child is told: “Go and put your plate in the kitchen!”
So the child just puts an arm into the kitchen, and puts the plate on the nearest surface, regardless of it’s suitability.
The child has tried to get away with the least amount of effort and thought.
The child almost fully obeyed!

What would have happened to Noah, if he had almost obeyed God, or if he had done the absolute bare minimum with a moaning spirit?
What about that blind man, if he had gone to the nearest pool to wash his eyes, he almost certainly wouldn’t have got healed.

In the Genesis reading it says:

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”

There doesn’t seem to be any reluctance there, or any halfheartedness.
Are we reluctant to obey what God says to us?
Do we shrink back from the thought, that God issues His commands for us to obey them?

Do we realise that the Lord disciplines us?
All those difficult situations that come our way, they could actually be God disciplining us, or training us.
Granny reads a book to a child on her knee.Have you ever seen a Grandma, who is totally besotted with her grandchild.
She may be talking to a neighbour, and the child walks up to her and immediately interrupts.
The Grandma deals patiently with all the child’s demands.
The child goes off, then returns, and immediately stops the conversation with the neighbour.
Again she answers the child’s demands.
All that love and attention is good, but the child can become spoilt.
Loving correction and discipline can be missing.
But God doesn’t spoil us to our harm. He has the right balance of love, and discipline. Hebrews tells us:

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. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined, and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Hebrews 12:5-11

If we can learn these lessons, then life will make more sense when we are in the difficult times.
Let’s persevere in our hardships.

The tough situation that hits us, is not something which is a waste of time, or something which has no relevance to our spiritual life, it may be the Lord either training us, or disciplining us.
It could also be for the proving of our faith, but we’ll look at that in a later study.
The situation may be tough, but it is helpful to see that it is a hand of love that corrects us, for our good.It is not the arm of judgement sent to destroy us.

Angry man trying to start his lawnmower.But why does the Lord put us through these hardships? Why this discipline?
The answer is so that we can share in His Holiness!
We are being refined, which is not always a pleasant experience.
Remember, it is the pure in heart who will see God. (See Matthew 5:8)
The other benefit of being trained by the Lord’s discipline, is that:

…it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

When the going gets tough, we weather the storms in more of a calm way.
Our feathers don’t get so ‘ruffled’, and there is more peace in our lives.
We begin to yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”
Genesis 7:5-7

Dazed image: thanks to Serif ART CD. Ark image: thanks to The Pictorial Dictionary published by The Educational Book Company, London

Peter Reason

January 2012

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