As some of you know, we’re facing some hard times over here these days (in Russia, inspections and investigations; in Belarus, upheaval and difficulty; financial shortfalls everywhere). I sent an email to our team and thought I’d share it with you —

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Recently I’ve been contemplating Hebrews chapter 12 and want to share a few thoughts.

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.

God allows hardships for our good, so that we’ll be more like Him, so that we’ll share in His holiness. Hardships create a harvest of righteousness and peace if we’ll allow ourselves to be trained by them.

This is something God has been impressing on my heart: will I allow these current hardships to train me to be more like Him? Discipline is NEVER pleasant, but it’s good. Even Jesus was ‘made perfect through suffering‘.

Suffering will make us more complete, more mature, if we walk through it in God’s way. I pray that, as we face these stressful, difficult times, we will stand on the true hope that a good harvest is coming as a result of this loving discipline God is allowing in our lives.

We need encouragement when we’re going through tough times; we need to hear good words that will lift our spirits. It’s almost comical how the writer of Hebrews does this; it certainly goes against my natural tendencies:

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.”

This is the word of encouragement: difficulties are a sign of God’s love for us. The idea is that rather than trying to get out from under our difficulties, we should be thankful and know that God is lovingly treating us like His children.

I think hardships are also a sign of God’s trust in us; He knows exactly what difficulties we can carry and He allows them into our lives. This good word says: Be encouraged, God is disciplining you! 🙂

I don’t mean to imply that the difficulties we face are not as bad as they are. We’re all walking through some very hard times. But God has a purpose and a result in mind; if we’ll submit to Him and endure this hardship as discipline, then our future will hold increasing righteousness and peace and we’ll share in God’s holiness. The very things we long for will be ours as we walk through these hard times with Christ as our guide.

In Him —

Mike

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