Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:3-11)
Shortly after joining the leadership team at a mission agency, I began to see conflicting goals throughout the organization. Some wanted to change things faster while others sought stability and consistency. I quickly became frustrated there were no resolutions on the horizon. During one of our leadership meetings, my boss led an exercise where we identified various organizational issues we should never resolve. I had no idea this was an option. Could it be that some challenges should never be solved? Could it be more harmful to allow one side of an issue to win the day?
This principle is not only true in organizational leadership, it’s true in almost every sphere of life. Is God merciful or is he just? The answer is yes, he is. And, aren’t we glad he’s both? If God were only just, we’d all be the recipients of justice because we all have some evil in us. If God were only merciful, terrible crimes like abuse, murder, rape, and genocide would go un-dealt with. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of God’s wisdom in the gospel. God has found a way to be both “just and the justifier” (Romans 3:26). The value of tension is deposited in our reality. We submit our muscles to tension and even pain in order to help them grow stronger. Just like a muscle cannot grow without strain, our character cannot grow without pain.
The scripture above used to be a text I didn’t like very much but it’s grown to be one of the greatest comforts to me. I used to read the word “discipline” like it meant punishment. I pictured God giving me a cosmic spanking when I failed. When I studied the text more closely, I learned the word “discipline” carries more similarities to a coach training an athlete then it does to an angry parents spanking. Not all pain in life is bad. In fact, Paul says “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character” (Rom 5:3-4). Identify the pains or frustrations in your life that God might be using to build your character and thank him for that tension today. For example, there may be an ongoing argument you have with our spouse where both of you are right and you should strive for balance not resolution. It can be so helpful to identify and submit to the character building tensions of life.
By Aaron Bjorklund