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?...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 12:7, 11
The Iroquois tribe had a custom for boys as they made the right of passage on the way to manhood. When the boy was ready and wanted to be considered one of the braves, he would go through a period of intense training. The culmination of the training would be that the boy would spend the night by himself, deep in the forest. In a clearing, the boy would build a fire and keep watch through the night. If he would run home in fear, he would be disgraced and was clearly not yet a man. However, if he would stay the night, he would pass the test and would be considered well on his way to manhood. The boys were never in any real danger though. High up in a tree near the boy would be his father, keeping a watchful eye on his son, armed with his bow, ready to answer any threat of danger to the child.
This section of Scripture deals with those tests from God, meant for our growth and maturation in the faith. We should not be surprised by suffering as a result of our faith, but rather we should grow to expect it. As Martin Luther writes, “For as soon as God’s Word takes root and grows in you, the devil will plague you.” Trials and tests are common to the lives of Christians. The writer to the Hebrews addresses the unpleasant experience of discipline that God allows for those He loves. No one ever enjoys such periods of testing, but these times yield fruits of righteousness among the saints of God.
Luther called these periods “little whiles” from 1 Peter chapter 1. These little whiles – these times of trial and temptation, suffering and discipline all end. But during these little whiles – we are taught to rely more and more on God. We are reminded that we can do nothing of ourselves. We are powerless against the assaults of the devil. Even in the midst of a physical trial that God allows, we need his presence every passing hour. Norman Nagel once wrote, “Temptation teaches us the frailty of our own wisdom and strength. The resources for our strength are not in ourselves, but in our faithful God and His Word. Thus, our Brother overcame temptation with the mighty weapon of God’s Word. Three times Satan was overthrown with the victorious, ‘It is written.’”
The last six months have not been pleasant for anyone. May the Lord bring about good from this time of trial and testing as we rely upon Him and the strength that He gives to us in His precious Word. May our faith be proved genuine through the Spirit’s work within us!
Prayer – Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son, You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily need, and especially in all time of temptation, we may seek Your held and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan