[This is the eighth of fourteen passages that sustained me in my dark place.]
…submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:9-13
God is raising a family. As all kids do, we need discipline. What he uses most bring his discipline and develop his character in us is hardship. Honestly, I’m not always fond of this program. While I really do want “righteousness and peace,” I’ve been known to possess a serious aversion to some of his methods of getting me there.
This passage gives me two reasons to “suffer well.” The first reason is that I’ll become a better person if I do. He disciplines us for our good. It’s painful, but it produces something beneficial to us. Suffering itself isn’t enough; it’s suffering well that makes me a better son to my Father.
The second reason to suffer well is how it benefits others by watching me and following my example. All of us have someone watching us – friends and family. Life has already “lamed” them, and we don’t want them to be “disabled but rather healed” as they watch us put one foot in front of the other and step where we’ve stepped.
“Take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight smooth path for your feet so that those who follow you, though weak and lame will not fall and hurt themselves, but become strong.” The Living Bible
“Clear the path for long distance runners so that no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!” The Message Bible
Other runners who are right on our tail trust that we know where the heck we’re going. They watch where we step so they can carefully place their feet in the same spots. If we handle our troubles with whining and self-pity, to their own loss, so will they, and we will have led them to that loss. But, if we gratefully embrace the Father’s training, others will follow our example and be healed rather than disabled.
“I see you in the jaws of darkness, and I urge you to respond to your trials in such a way as to become a better person. Pick yourself up the best you can and don’t let these things get you down. It’ll make you better and those who are watching you will become better too. Life has already lamed them; don’t disable them further. Run your race in such a way that helps others win theirs too!” Jesus