This week’s Sunday school lesson came from Hebrews 12:1-13. The focus of the lesson was how God trains us to live the life He has planned for us through discipline. The verses use the example of parents disciplining their children and how we respect parents who discipline their young and teach them the right way to go. So, if we respect earthly parents who punish their children, then how much more respect and admiration should we give our Heavenly Father when He chastens us.
As the lesson began and I read the verses, I first felt guilty for complaining to God, and my mom and my best friend about my current struggles because, as the verses say, I may be struggling in some areas of my life, but I have not “suffered unto death” as Christ did. No matter how bad it feels that my circumstances are getting, there is nothing that I can go through that Jesus did not face. And, I can look to Him as an example of how to face difficulties. When I feel lonely, I can see that He also felt lonely, especially just before He died. When, I feel like my friends don’t understand what I am going through, I know that Jesus felt the same way, as His disciples could not understand anything He was trying to tell them and His closest allies could not even stay awake long enough to pray with Him.
When we got to the verses about God chastening those He loves, I sat and wondered, “God, I know I am not perfect, but I cannot think of what I did to be in this state where I feel like I am being punished. I know I have done things in the past, but I trust and believe Your Word that I have been forgiven. I know I will have to face some consequences from past actions, but I feel like I am living in a perpetual state of punishment. And, if you will show me what I am being punished for, I will repent and fix it.” I remember when I was little and I would get in trouble. I always wanted my parents to just spank me, so we could move past the punishment. The worst feeling was when my parents did not spank me or even yell at me, but just simply said, “I am really disappointed in you because you know better.” And, lately, I have been feeling like God is saying He is disappointed in me. I have been feeling that there is something I am supposed to be doing or a lesson that I am not learning and I just want to get my punishment, so we (God and I) can move forward from here.
Then, one of the members of the class pointed out that discipline from God is not punishment for things that we do. It is not God’s way of calling attention to our wrongdoings, so we can beat ourselves up about them. God uses discipline to train us; to prepare us for the things that He has reserved for us. I would be lying if I said that I immediately felt better because I did not. I thought, “Ok, Lord, if it’s not something that I did wrong and I am being prepared and not punished, then what part of this preparation am I not getting because this process is painful.” Nevertheless, I know that everything I am going through and every feeling that I feel is something that my Lord and Savior is familiar with, so I just need to seek Him and ask for His comfort and peace through these growing pains.
There is something that is going to happen in my life for which I need preparation. God loves me enough to allow me to feel uncomfortable right now, so that when the time comes to reveal the next step on my path, I will not stray and I will be able to fully enjoy what God has for me. He promises that it is all working out for my good and for His glory. If you have experienced something similar or are experiencing something similar, hang in there. God is not punishing you; He is preparing you, so that you can live an abundant life on earth, and then, an eternal life in Heaven. Listen, obey and walk in His Word. He has your best interests in mind. Ms. EV