Sitting with the Shepherd
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM; FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV)
The admonition given here is intended to encourage God's children when we go through trials. While the citizens of this world seek safety, comfort, unbridled pleasure and happiness, we as true followers of Christ need to be more realistic. Jesus Himself assured us that we will have trouble. But that He has gone before us and defeated our enemies. We can now walk in the victory that He won for us at the cross, but not without struggles.
James counsels us to count it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that spiritual fruit will ultimately be produced. He goes on to say that rather than being baffled or overcome with despair we need to ask of God what He is trying to teach us. In doing this we can embrace our trials and learn what it is that our Father is trying to teach us through them.
Knowing in our heart the goodness of God and the fact that He is sovereign over all helps us to have peace even in the worst of circumstances. He has a plan. He has a purpose. And that includes conforming us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. And being part of the plan although it may not always feel good at the time is not a sign of His anger, but proof of His genuine love. That in itself is a cause for great joy!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
(Jeremiah 29:11-14 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. How do trials affect God's children different that those of the world?
2. What fruit has God produced personally in your life through trials?
3. How does understanding the goodness of God help you endure trials?
My Father in heaven, I thank You that You are the author and the finsher of my faith and that You have begun a good work that You have promised to complete. Thank You for the opportunity to know You, because in knowing You I can be confident that that Your sovereign grace will only allow good in my life. May all the things I do and say today bring you glory, honor and praise. Amen