Hard Knocks

1dis·ci·pline

training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
 
The Merriam-Webster definition….Now for a look at a Biblical definition:
 
 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 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? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 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. (Heb 12:5-11, ESV)

And yet another Biblical definition:

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, [2] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4. ESV)

My former pastor used to define the word “disciple” as “a learner under discipline”. In other words one who claimed to be a disciple of Jesus was one was one who learned the Word of God in a disciplined manner, one who was being corrected and changed by the Word and, yes, even punishment by God.

I lost my job in the middle of last December.

Most of the kind of work I do is being farmed out to India or is being done by Indians being imported to America. It’s only going to get worse as Indians become more skilled at aerospace design jobs.

I was able to find work fairly quickly by January working from home. This was a blessing as it kept me local with my family where I didn’t have to go out-of-town to find work. This job has paid the bills, even if we did have to tighten our belts a little. I certainly saw this job as a blessing from God allowing me to remain near my family.

Now it appears this job is coming to an end and I’m again faced with the possibility of going out-of-town for work. There simply isn’t any work in my field locally. I’m too old to start over. I’m paying for braces and college and we’ve finally found a church home after 1-1/2 years of wandering.

I guess I’m a little stunned right now.

This brings me back to discipline. I know God will never leave me nor forsake me. I know also from his Word, the Bible, that His children are never left begging for bread. They are fed, clothed, and sheltered. Yet, as Hebrews says above, if we are true children of God, we are disciplined at times.

It’s these times that I’m left a little stunned. Times where I’m not quite sure what I’m being disciplined for. Or whether I’m being disciplined at all.

I guess that’s what discipline is, though. It’s pushing forward trusting in God to do what He has promised in his Word, the Bible. It’s not always knowing the who’s, where’s, or why’s. It’s not always even knowing how our next bills will be paid or where our next bite of food will come from.

Most of all, it’s learning to be patient and accept discipline as a means of assurance that you are a child of the Living God. That you are His. It’s a peace and an assurance that even if certain trials are hard we can know, as James wrote, that God is building perseverance in us and perfecting His love in us. In fact, if you can also rest assured that if you aren’t ever being disciplined that you aren’t one of His children.

I still have so far to go in learning to be patient under discipline. Just like a human child doesn’t like discipline, neither do I as a child of God. However, I can rest assured it’s only because He loves me that He’s willing to contend with my stubbornness and desires to work it out of me.

Thanks be to the Living God for His discipline.

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