Early this morning, I was reading through Hebrews 12 as part of the Bible reading plan I am following.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “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.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 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 spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:4-13 NIV)
This passage clearly refers to hardship as God’s discipline. What is hardship? Dictionary.com describes it as follows:
- a condition that is difficult to endure; suffering; deprivation; oppression: a life of hardship.
- an instance or cause of this; something hard to bear, as a deprivation, lack of comfort, or constant toil or danger.
This doesn’t sound like something God would want for your life, right? And you are right. Hardship is not what God wants for you. But that doesn’t mean that He won’t allow it in your life. He will. The above passage makes it clear. Think of it this way: you probably got hidings as a child, and if you are a parent, you are punishing your child too. Why? Not because enjoy the punishment. No. You know that in order to give that child the best chance at life possible, you need to train him in certain ways. It is the same with God. He is not a mean old man who enjoys punishing His children. No. He is a loving Father who wants the best for us.
Unfortunately, this concept has been severely twisted. Prosperity preachers make it seem that God will not punish us. They focus on the grace message and the promise of no condemnation and declare that hardship is not from God. Whatever your circumstances, you should just ask, believe and receive. As simple as that. Not true.
I firmly believe the devil brought this little twist into the church. Why? Well, those who are prosperous assume that they are 100% in God’s will, as clearly, He is blessing them in abundance. So they must be right in everything they do. They don’t persue a deeper relationship with God. They have arrived. Those that are poor and suffering start off seeking God. But when things don’t change for the better soon enough, they either think of God as unfair, or, they see themselves as simply not worthy and they give up. In both cases we are stuck with lukewarm Christians who should be seeking more of God, but they are not, because of a twisted message by false preachers.
The Word of God will stand forever. God is sovereign and we will never understand Him. We cannot even understand his love, so how will we ever understand the rest of Him? We cannot reason it out. We cannot predict it. It is far above us. We should return to a place where we fear the Almighty God with reverence. We need to get back to the place of seeking His face, not just expecting good gifts from His hands on our demand. Yes he is a loving Father. And in that exact phrase is the reason why we will experience hardship from time to time. Because He loves us. He is more interested in our character, than our prosperity.
Don’t let your pastor lie to you. Not in church. Not on the TV. Not on the radio. Not in any podcast. There may be a time when you will go through hardship because God decided it is necessary. No amount of “ask, believe, receive” will alleviate it. You can confess positively until you are blue in the face. It won’t change a thing. Until you have learned what God wants you to learn, you will remain in that place of hardship.
Start seeking Him through prayer and fasting. Allow the hardship to change you for the better. Grow through it. Then it is all worth it.