Through. That’s a difficult word. It is a word that denotes the presence of pain, of facing a situation and knowing we can’t stay there. We believe the idea that God has bigger and better things for us, but the chasm between the ‘here’ and ‘there’ seems daunting. So, often, we stay in an uncomfortable place…a sinful place, a place God never intended for us.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12 that “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (v. 10 NIV). While that sounds great, it doesn’t always feel great. In fact, verse 12 goes on to say, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” But stay tuned! The next part of the verse holds glorious truth, and we’ll get there soon. For now, let’s talk about pain.
The pain of knowing we are in the wrong:
One reason that discipline is so difficult for us to accept is that it pokes our insecurity. We innately know that we are not perfect, but who wants to be reminded of that fact? We tend to put our guard up and defend ourselves. But God, in his love and grace, doesn’t point out our wrongs in a criticizing way. When God points out our wrong, we automatically think there is something wrong with us. But our Heavenly Father is kindly showing us something wrong in us. He doesn’t come against our identity; he comes against our sin.
The pain of change:
When we are confronted with something wrong in us – an action, an attitude, a desire, whatever – it’s usually a huge process of unpacking that thing and, oftentimes, trying to still hold onto it. Life is hard, and it is so easy to replace holiness with comfort. The problem is, when we’re in Christ, the chaff will eventually rise to the surface, and even the thing that brought us comfort and pleasure will start to hurt. That’s a conundrum! And that is why God is so good. Hebrews 12:11 goes on to say, “Later on, however, [the discipline] produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Our ultimate peace is found when we do the thing or change the thing that God is telling us to do.
The pain of staying the same:
The conundrum stage is a pivotal point. It determines how long we’ll be stuck in the wilderness; how long we’ll circle the same mountain. In Acts 26, Paul is confronted by Jesus. Paul was living in a way that he thought was best and even righteous. But it was not what Jesus had for him. And once confronted by the Lord, Paul couldn’t go on in the same way even if he wanted to. Jesus said to him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (v. 14 NIV). Paul was at the conundrum stage. Yielding to Jesus meant change, and change often means pain. Staying the same and kicking against the goads would also be painful for Paul. There was no easy way out, no painless way out. Only the righteous way. And the righteous way eventually brings peace. (See Hebrews 12:11 again)
The reason for pain:
The purpose of pain is to bring about our holiness. In our Western culture, the idea of suffering for Christ and for holiness is foreign. We would much rather have a happy, easy life after salvation. We want the blessings of God. He wants them for us, too; He just knows that trials are the way to get us there sometimes. We avoid pain like the plague when sometimes the pain of the plague leads us to greater peace and joy after the trial is over.
Bethel has a song called “Ever Be” and in it we sing God’s purpose…
Now you’re making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name
And that’s why I sing
‘Your praise will ever be on my lips’
“You are making me like You, clothing me in white. Bringing beauty from ashes.” It’s a process that is continually happening. It’s sanctification…our constant growing and becoming ever more like Jesus. And therein lies our peace – being more like Him. We were created to become like Jesus, and as long as we live, God will confront our wrongs to bring about His purpose in our lives.
Malachi 3:2-3 NIV – For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord.
Psalm 66:10-12 NIV – For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
1 Peter 4:12-13 – Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
James 1:2-3 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Ultimately isn’t that what we all long for – to lack nothing? We find our peace in righteousness. We find beauty after the ashes. If we cooperate with God as he does his work in us, we will find triumph through trials. Allow him to do his work.
Going through with you,