19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
If I’m honest, my marriage was struggling. The most frustrating part about it was that both my wife and I wanted so bad to make things better. But try as we might, we couldn’t seem to connect. It was extremely painful, we didn’t know how long we could go on like that. We got some counseling, which was wonderful for us and nothing to be ashamed of, but that is a different story. One night, I was laying in bed at my wits end crying out to God, asking him why this was so hard if we both wanted His way so badly. I came to Hebrews 12, which is a twin text to the passage we find in Revelation 3:19-20. My outlook on struggles will never be the same.
I noticed in Hebrews 12:3 that Jesus endured extreme amounts of pain in his life. I had come to believe that pain was the equivalent of a cosmic spanking. I believed that if I was in pain, it was always a direct result of my sin and God was out to punish me. As I looked at Hebrews, I knew I had to be wrong because Jesus experienced pain and had no sin. The passage goes on, just like ours in Revelation, to say that God disciplines those he loves. My interest was sparked and I went on to study the idea of God’s discipline and began to think of it less like a cosmic spanking and more like the strong words of a good coach. Just like an athlete is trained by a coach who pushes them beyond their comfort, so our Good father disciplines and trains, or coaches, us for our good. In Revelation 3, Jesus speaks harshly to Laodicea because he wants what is better for them.
Hebrews 12:7 is translated helpfully by the NIV. It says this, “Endure hardship as discipline.” It does not say hardship IS discipline. If you choose to look to your good father to teach you something from hardship, then you have endured it AS discipline. The difference is all in your perspective on those hardships. What tensions, struggles, or pains do you have in your life that you might need to look at differently? What does your good father (coach) want to teach you through them? Could it be that there is growth lurking behind the pain? Ask God to take those hardships and struggles and transform them into growth.
By Aaron Bjorklund