Thursday, February 19, 2004

"Pain is the precursor to change". This statement was made by Mel Gibson in his interview with Diane Sawyer. Gibson was speaking at his spiritual turn, as he read the Gospels in response to the desperation of his life.

The Bible puts it this way: God disciplines those he loves.

The writer of Hebrews quoted Proverbs to begin his discussion of this topic. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines everyone he accepts as a son. Hebrews 12:5-6.

When we are having a hard time, the Bible tells us to avoid both extremes. Do not make light of it. Some Christians feel they have to shrug off difficulties or refuse to acknowledge them. That is not honest. When it is hard, it is hard. Admit it.

Sometimes we go through terrible and painful things. I recently sat with a friend over coffee as he spoke of going through a divorce. It hurt. The pain was real, the tears were wet. We do not have to ignore that.

On the other hand, we cannot lose heart. Think of what Job suffered. He lost his family and his fortune, but God still expected his devotion.

Pain is the precursor to change, for we look to God with the least distraction in times of pain. Verse 10 says that God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. I do not know why God chooses pain to chisel away our imperfections. Often I do not even see imperfections in someone who is suffering. But God is at work, making us more holy.

This passage goes on to say discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. That is a worthy goal. No one has more peace that the believer who has been through the fire with God and come out on the other side changed. He is willing to let God work in his life in whatever way God chooses. He sees the righteous fruit. Knowing that God is on his throne makes all right with the world.
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