When my son was three, he defiantly declared his independence from me. Once, he darted across the street in front of a car after I told him to hold my hand. On another occasion, he ran into a swimming pool when I wasn’t watching and nearly drowned. Daily, he shouted and stomped out his strong opinions, wanting his way over mine.
Determined to win, we doubled down with discipline. Some days he yelled, “No! Don’t!” all the way to the time-out chair. If I added together all of the minutes he spent in time-out, they would add up to hours of his life. Today, however, that strong-willed little boy has grown into a respectful and teachable man.
Most parents understand this verse,
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.Hebrews 12:11 NLT
Our Father wants us to view suffering as a means of disciplining us. Through suffering, we learn valuable lessons like perseverance, patience, and trust. Transformation takes place in us that we would not have been able to bring about on our own. And, if we accept suffering with the right understanding about its purpose, later on we’ll experience its peaceful results. Picture grapes in a vat being crushed and squeezed to produce sweet juice. Think about suffering this way–
Although the gospel has made us righteous in God’s eyes, discipline is the means for bringing our present life into alignment with God’s righteous view of us. We have peace with Him, for sure, but we experience peace consistently in our lives as we align with Him. If we’ll accept His discipline, the outcome will be our transformation and the by-product will be peace.
Hannah Hurnard’s allegorical work Hinds’ Feet on High Place tells the story of little Much-Afraid’s journey to the High Places with the Shepherd and her companions, Suffering and Sorrow.
On her journey, she descends into the Valley of Loss. At first, the Valley of Loss terrifies Much-Afraid, and she wants to leave. Distraught, she calls out, “Shepherd, Shepherd!” He comforts her, saying, “It is perfectly safe for you to go on in this way even thought it looks so wrong . . . . Will you suffer yourself to lose or to be deprived of all that you gained on this journey to the High Places?”
After a little while, she finds that the Valley of Loss is a “wonderfully beautiful and peaceful place.” Here, in this dreaded place, she “(feels) more restful, more peaceful, and more content than anywhere else on the journey.” She remembers the Shepherd’s teaching,
Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible–terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved.
Later in the story, after Much-Afraid has been transformed and renamed Grace and Glory, and Sorrow has been renamed Peace, she reflects, “I have noticed that when people are brought in to sorrow and suffering, or loss, or humiliation, or grief, or into some place of great need, they sometimes become ready to know the Shepherd and to seek His help.”
Discipline and Suffering are Intertwined
Dear child of your loving Father, please don’t forget that suffering and discipline are beautifully intertwined. Stay rooted in His promise of peace from it.