July 23, 2008

God's Gym

Hebrews 12:4-11

Do not make light of the Lord's discipline … the Lord disciplines those he loves.
Hebrews 12:5-6


According to a popular legend, Teresa of Avila was riding one day when something startled her horse. She was thrown to the ground, where she landed in a mud puddle. Then she asked God the question we have been reflecting on for the past few days: “Why?” And apparently she heard God respond by saying, “This is how I treat all my friends.” Not satisfied, Teresa apparently replied, “Then, Lord, it is not surprising that you have so few.” We might first be taken aback by Teresa's response. But her words point to a serious question: Why do those who are friends with God suffer? It may sound contradictory, but today's Bible reading says that the painful discipline we sometimes receive from God is a sign of his love for us. In verse 11 we read about being “trained” by God's discipline. Borrowing from the field of athletic training, the writer is suggesting we are in a gym where our fitness instructor is God himself. Anyone who works out in a gym knows the strain of physical activity. Our spiritual life can be just as strenuous, especially when we are in discipline training. If God has rebuked you and you're in discipline training, don't lose heart. You are in God's gym. He has designed a fitness program specifically for you. He knows what areas of your life need to be strengthened. He is training you for greater service in his kingdom.

Lord, sometimes it's hard to see any connection between our pain and your love. Fill us with your strength so we can endure hardship and bring comfort to others. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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