“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal” (Job 5:17-18 ESV).
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the words Discipline and Disciple share the same root. So it should also come as no surprise that disciples receive discipline!
Disciples are similar, in that respect, to today’s top athletes. If you examine the daily activities of Olympic swimmers, for instance, you would find that they don’t just spend time swimming. They spend hours doing drills to perfect their form. Their coaches sit and analyze underwater and above water video footage with them to find the imperfections that, once fixed, can shave even a hundredth of a second off their time.
I have often thought that God doesn’t put obstacles in our paths; but rather uses the obstacles that exist to train and discipline us. But when I read Job 5:17-18 this morning it was an eye opener. I’d read it many times before, but it never really hit me until this morning.
I’ve long been familiar with Hebrews 12:7-11, “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? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 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? 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. 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” (ESV). But those verses speak of discipline (punishment?) for wrong doing.
So, He wounds and shatters, but He binds up and heals? Whether this was simply Job’s interpretation of the events that rocked his world, or actually one of God’s methods, is up to debate. But either way, it should help us to see the events of our lives from a different perspective. Perhaps we shouldn’t view negative events from a negative perspective. Could it be that God wants us to grow as disciples through those negative events?
If that is the case, then negative events are like the above-and-below water videos Olympic swimmers use to point out their mistakes!
I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).
I remember experiencing growing pains as a child. At the time, I didn’t want so much to grow! But pain is natural and normal. It reminds us that we are alive, that we feel, physically and emotionally.
So, the next time you encounter a difficulty or challenge, when you find yourself hurting, the next time you find yourself under fire, be reminded of the fact that we grow through struggles and pains. Mindfully examine the situation and your own state of faith. Find the growth that is there to be had.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV).
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your day!