Trials can be trainers and teachers

Trials. Hardships. You have them. I have them. They’re not fun. But what if there was some greater purpose behind some of them?

In Hebrews 12: 7, 10 we read: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children… God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”

These days, “discipline” isn’t a popular word, especially in a society that prizes pleasure, happiness and permissiveness. Plus, the word can make us think of spanking a child. That’s why we need to think more broadly about what it means.

Think about “having discipline.” In this sense, it is about doing something you may not want to do, or experiencing something you may not want to experience, for the greater good. 

Yes, giving a consequence to a child is a kind of discipline. They are learning responsibility or the importance of being considerate of others. But athletes also have discipline. They forego couch-time to do extra laps. They are doing something they may not want to do for the greater good. Discipline builds the character of children and also refines the skills of athletes.

In Hebrews, we are invited to think about our hardships as a kind of discipline. They can train us to share in God’s holiness. Being like Jesus doesn’t happen by accident. Like a sculptor chiselling away on a slab of marble to reveal a wonderful statue, so can hardship chisel away on our character until we are found to be more like Jesus.

I’m not saying that all hardship is discipline from our loving, heavenly Father—but some of it certainly is. 

When we think in these terms, it can actually motivate us to keep moving forward in life, even when it’s tough.

Trials can be trainers and teachers.

They’re not necessarily fun. But some of them may be teaching you or training you in holiness so that you can be a more robust blessing to the people around you for the glory of God.


–Today’s devotional is connected to my latest sermon: “Trials can be trainers and teachers.” Click here to watch or listen.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV. 

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